Federal authorities reinstated a finding that Virginia Tech violated a law requiring colleges to issue timely warnings of threats to students and staff when the university responded to the 2007 massacre by student Seung Hui Cho, the Washington Post reports. Education Secretary Arne Duncan ordered a smaller fine than the $55,000 initially levied. The final amount has not been determined but will exceed $27,500. Whether the university violated the federal campus safety law in its response to the killing of 33 people has been a question for more than two years. Virginia Tech, which disputes the finding of fault, says it is strongly considering an appeal to federal court.
The case has been under scrutiny as universities across the U.S. have beefed up emergency-response systems. At Virginia Tech, those systems kicked into gear Dec. 8, minutes after an assailant fatally shot a police officer. There were e-mails, text alerts, robo-calls and sirens. A blunt advisory told the campus community: “Stay inside. Secure doors.” That rapid lockdown was a sharp contrast to the response in 2007. Then, the university sent an e-mail two hours after police found two students fatally shot in a dormitory warning the community to be cautious. A few minutes later, the rest of the victims were gunned down in another building.