Virginia Tech says it acted appropriately in alerting the campus during the 2007 shootings and disagrees with the $55,000 fines that the government has levied on the school. The fines were levied under the Clery Act.
"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," says an AP report.
In the Virginia Tech case, says the report, the hearing probably won't end with an immediate ruling and further legal challenges could follow.
Virginia's attorney general, Kenneth Cuccinelli, said in a statement earlier this year that the appeal was filed to compel the department to treat Virginia Tech fairly, the report says.
The university is facing charges of failure to issue a timely warning and failure to follow its own procedures for providing notification.
The department said the university violated the law by waiting more than two hours after two students were shot to death in a residence hall before sending out a campus wide warning by email. The department said the email was too vague because it mentioned only a "shooting incident" but did not say anyone had died. By that time, student gunman Seung-Hui Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more people and then himself.
At the time the email was sent, the university has argued it was believed the two students were shot in an isolated domestic incident and that the shooter had left the campus. The school also contends it had planned a news conference to discuss the residence hall shootings until the later shootings intervened.
"This case is not one in which Virginia Tech was avoiding its responsibilities, but rather one in which it responded in a variety of ways that are permissible under the applicable regulations," the university said in a court filing.