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Va. Tech seeking to block fine in shooting

Government fined school for being slow to notify students in 2007 mass shooting.

WASHINGTON — Virginia Tech says it acted appropriately in alerting the campus that bloody spring day in 2007 during what turned out to be the deadliest mass shooting in modern U.S. history.

The government disagrees and has levied $55,000 in fines, contending the school was too slow in notifying students, faculty and staff and therefore in violation of a federal law requiring timely warnings when there are safety threats.

The university gets a chance Wednesday to begin making its case before an Education Department administrative judge, Ernest C. Canellos, in hopes of erasing a fine that isn’t hefty but can leave a black mark on an institution’s record.

The fines were levied under a law known as the Clery Act, which requires colleges and universities to provide warnings in a timely manner and to report the number of crimes on campus. During the Obama administration, there’s been a ramping up in enforcement under the act, which has gotten recent attention because of scandals at Penn State and Syracuse.

Investigators have been on the Penn State campus for a Clery Act investigation into whether the university failed to report incidents of sexual abuse in connection to allegations against former assistant football coach Jerry Sandusky. An Education Department spokesman said the department is also reviewing whether a similar investigation will take place at Syracuse. Three men, including two former ballboys, have accused former assistant basketball coach Bernie Fine of molesting them as minors.

The university gets a chance Wednesday to begin making its case before an Education Department administrative judge.

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