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S. 590 (114th): Campus Accountability and Safety Act

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The summary below was written by the Congressional Research Service, which is a nonpartisan division of the Library of Congress, and was published on Feb 26, 2015.

Campus Accountability and Safety Act

Amends provisions of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act to require institutions of higher education (IHEs) that participate in title IV (Student Assistance) programs to include in their annual campus security reports provided to current and prospective students and employees:

the memorandum of understanding that this Act requires IHEs to enter into with local law enforcement agencies (and update, as necessary, every two years) to clearly delineate responsibilities and share information about certain serious crimes, including sexual violence, occurring against students or other individuals on campus; and specified information regarding the number of sex offenses reported to the IHE and the IHE's disposition of sex offense cases. Requires IHEs to provide new students and employees with a statement that identifies domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking as crimes which will be reported and with respect to which, based on the victim's wishes, the IHE will cooperate with local law enforcement. Requires an IHE's disciplinary procedures for such offenses to comply with its campus security policy and provide both the accuser and accused written notice of the outcome of such procedures or a change in an outcome within 24 hours after it occurs.

Directs the Secretary to develop and administer through an online portal a standardized, online, and biannual survey of students regarding their experiences with sexual violence and harassment. Omits survey responses from the annual crime statistics IHEs must report, but requires the Secretary to publish survey information that includes campus-level data for each school on the Department of Education's (ED's) website biannually. Requires IHEs to publish the campus-level results of the survey on their websites and in their annual security reports.

Requires ED to make publicly available guidance regarding the intersection of the campus security and crime statistics reporting requirements under title IV and requirements under title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972.

Requires each IHE that receives funding under the HEA to establish a campus security policy that includes:

the designation of one or more confidential advisors at the IHE to whom non-employee victims of sexual harassment, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, or stalking can report, including anonymously; provision on the IHE's website of specified information to assist the victims of such crimes, including contact information for the confidential advisor; authorization for the IHE to provide an online reporting system to collect anonymous disclosures of crimes and track patterns of crime on campus; an amnesty policy for any student who, in good faith, reports sexual violence to a higher education responsible employee, with respect to a non-violent student conduct violation revealed in the course of such a report; a training program, developed by the Secretary, for IHE employees who are involved in implementing the school's student grievance procedures or responsible for interviewing alleged sexual assault victims; a uniform process (for each of the IHE's campuses) for student disciplinary proceedings relating to claims of sexual violence against a student attending the IHE; the annual provision of information to ED's Office for Civil Rights and the Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice (DOJ) regarding the IHE's title IX coordinator; the provision of written notice to the accuser and accused student within 24 hours of the IHE's decision to proceed with an institutional disciplinary process regarding an allegation of sexual misconduct; and the provision of written notice to the accuser and accused student within 24 hours of the determination of responsibility made by the disciplinary board and any sanctions. Directs the Secretary to establish a title IX website that includes:

the name and contact information for the title IX coordinator at each IHE, including a brief description of the coordinator's role and the roles of other officials who may be contacted regarding sexual harassment; and ED's pending investigations and the actions it has taken regarding all title IX complaints and compliance reviews related to sexual harassment. Directs the Secretary to develop online training materials for training higher education responsible employees, title IX coordinators, and individuals involved in implementing an IHE's student conduct grievance procedures.

Authorizes the Secretary to impose civil penalties upon IHEs that fail to: (1) enter into memorandums of understanding with their local law enforcement agencies, (2) carry out campus security and crime statistics reporting requirements, or (3) establish the requisite campus security policy.

Amends the Violence Against Women and Department of Justice Reauthorization Act of 2005 to: (1) increase the minimum grant that may be provided to IHEs to combat domestic violence, dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking on campuses; and (2) authorize the use of such grants to train campus personnel in how to use victim-centered, trauma-informed interview techniques.

Amends the HEA to authorize the Secretary, using amounts collected under this Act's penalty provisions, to award competitive grants to IHEs to enhance their ability to address sexual harassment, sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, and stalking, on campus.

Amends the Education Amendments of 1972 to authorize the Secretary or DOJ to impose civil penalties on IHEs that violate or fail to carry out title IX requirements regarding sexual violence. Gives individuals 180 days after their graduation or disaffiliation with an IHE to file a complaint regarding such a violation with ED's Office for Civil Rights.