Audit says Pa. universities need to better track crime, sex bias |

Audit says Pa. universities need to better track crime, sex bias

The Associated Press

HARRISBURG — Pennsylvania’s system of 14 state-owned universities should do a better job of tracking crimes and sex discrimination, state Auditor General Eugene DePasquale said Monday as he released a performance audit of the agency.

In a generally favorable report about the State System of Higher Education that praised its efforts to rein in rising tuition rates, DePasquale cited procedural deficiencies in the universities’ compliance with some federal laws that could result in costly penalties.

The audit, covering the three fiscal years ending in June 2014, indicated “the system needs to step up its game,” said DePasquale, who was flanked by system Chancellor Frank Brogan at a Capitol news conference.

DePasquale criticized the system’s discontinuance in 2013 of internal audits of compliance with the federal Clery Act, which requires public reporting of crimes on or near campuses. He said internal audits are vital in ensuring that each university is complying with the law.

The system lacks uniform, systemwide procedures for handling grievances under Title IX, which prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs. Instead, each university has its own procedure, forcing lawyers monitoring compliance to sift through 14 policies, the auditors said.

Brogan, who has been chancellor for 18 months, said he accepts the audit findings. He said the 110,000-student system has hired an outside lawyer who will help provide a more consistent approach to its many audits by other state and federal agencies.

“We are audited on a frequent basis,” he said.

DePasquale, the state’s elected fiscal watchdog, said rising tuition rates stemming from years of cuts and stagnation in state funding have coincided with declines in enrollment and are increasingly pushing the cost of a college education beyond the reach of middle-class families. He commended system officials’ efforts to reduce costs and attract new students.

“They’re doing about as much as they can,” he said.

Earlier this month, the system’s board tentatively agreed to freeze tuition for the 2015-16 school years if the $43 million increase in system funding that Gov. Tom Wolf has requested is approved by the Legislature.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.