MISSOULA – The University of Montana plans to appeal a fine of nearly $1 million for failing to publish accurate annual crime statistics, according to a letter from the Department of Education to UM president Seth Bodnar.
UM Communications Director Paula Short says the university isn’t disputing the errors, but is concerned about the six-figure fine levied by the DOE.
Bodnar was recently notified that UM is now facing the fine.
Per the Clery Act, universities are required to publicly report crime statistics every year. The DOE notice says the university omitted and misreported statics from 2012 to 2015.
Short says the discovery was made as the result of a DOE program review that began in 2009.
She says the university reported the mistakes and corrected them after the DOE asked them to look at the statistics for those four years.
She says the fine was not unexpected, but it comes heftier than anticipated.
“The fine was not completely unexpected. The magnitude of the fine is concerning and was unexpected. The university does plan to exercise the appeals process that was outlined in the letter that we received from the Department of Education as we move forward,” Short said.
Annual security reports omitted 18 crime statistics that happened in 2012, and 90 that occurred in 2013.
For 2014, 22 statistics were omitted, and for 2015, the annual report left out 3 crime statistics.
The university must file the appeal by October 18 or the fine will be imposed that same day.
Reporting by Augusta McDonnell for MTN News