By Olivia McKelvey, Kevin Boodoosingh and Emily Walker
McCay released a statement to the Florida Tech community on Jan. 13 announcing that a review of the 2019 Annual Security Fire and Safety Reports found 53 cases of under-reporting and 115 cases of over-reporting. In total, there were 168 cases found that were misrepresented in the report. This could lead to a fine of roughly $9.8 million dollars.
Clery law states that each instance of misrepresented data—whether that be under-reporting or over-reporting—may result in a fine of $58,328 to the university by the U.S. Department of Education. Florida Tech is a federally funded university, making it covered by Clery law and requiring it to release an annual report each year with campus crime statistics.
The previous fine was $57,317 per incident; on Jan. 14, the Department of Education released a notice that the fine has increased to $58,328 due to inflation.
According to S. Daniel Carter, the president of Safety Advisors for Education Campuses, LLC, who worked with the Department of Education as a key individual in writing federal regulations for the Clery Act, an incident of over-reporting is a misrepresentation of data and can result in the same $58,328 fine as an incident of under-reporting. He went on to say that fines are easier to avoid in cases of over-reporting than with cases of under-reporting.
“It is unlikely that the Education Department would impose the maximum fine,” Carter stated in an email. “While under-reporting is generally viewed as more serious, as a technical matter an error, over or under, constitutes exactly the same violation.”
According to McCay’s statement, eight of the underreported cases were reports of rape. McCay stated in his email that “it is important to note that the incidents of reported rape themselves were each taken very seriously and treated appropriately.”
All 115 cases of over-reporting were in the category of liquor law violations.
In addition to the misrepresented data, McCay announced that two employees have departed from the university since the review; one was fired and the other has resigned.
The university did not provide the names of the employees who were fired and resigned. In an email, Wes Sumner, the vice president of marketing and communications, stated, “Florida Tech declines to discuss the details of individual personnel actions.”
Linda Jancheson was removed from the position of Title IX coordinator, which she held since February of 2018, but still holds the position of employee relations manager in Human Resources.
The Title IX coordinator position has been filled by Fanak Baarmand. Baarmand is also the risk and compliance manager.
Linda’s reassignment was announced in an email sent to the campus community from Patrick Healy, Florida Tech’s general council.
“All incidents or complaints concerning Title IX policy violations should be referred to [Baarmand],” Healy stated in an email.
McCay and Frank Iannone, the director of security, stated that they plan to request to reopen Florida Tech’s crime statistics on the Department of Education’s website. They will re-enter the corrected data and include a disclaimer explaining why corrections were made.
A new 2019 Annual Security Fire and Safety Reports was posted to Florida Tech’s website in conjunction with McCay’s statement.
In an email to The Crimson, Sumner stated, “The updated crime statistics now posted to the Florida Tech website accurately reflect the results of the university’s internal review of reported incidents and are in keeping with the university’s assessment of Clery Act classification guidelines.”
Florida Tech will partner with an outside consultant in the coming months to further review the crime statistics and “gain additional input regarding process improvement,” McCay stated.
“The result of that outside review will be shared when complete,” Sumner stated.
If you have made a report to Security, Title IX or local law enforcement and feel it has not been handled correctly, visit endrapeoncampus.org/the-clery-act to file a complaint.
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National Sexual Assault Hotline 1-800-656-4673
Women’s Center Counseling 321-242-1526
National Domestic Violence Hotline 1-800-799-7233