Texas State University is in San Marcos.
Texas State University is in San Marcos. Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

The U.S. Department of Education has opened a formal review into Texas State University’s compliance with a federal crime-reporting statute meant to provide information about campus safety. The process could culminate in hefty fines.

The San Marcos university acknowledged in September that it seriously under-reported the number of rapes and other crimes on campus in recent years. Officials have attributed the misinformation to outdated software, lack of communication among campus offices and former university police chiefs' inexperience with Clery, a federal statute that requires schools to publish campus crime data and promptly warn students about safety threats. But former Texas State police employees have told The Texas Tribune the department lacked resources and that administrators failed to act when told about deficiencies.

Texas State University President Denise Trauth notified students, faculty and staff of the review Thursday, noting that the school has been working with the Education Department since May.

“We have been preparing for this possible next step in the process and are fully cooperating with the Department [of Education]’s program review team to continue to improve campus safety and Clery compliance,” Trauth wrote. “Our guiding priorities at Texas State are the safety, security and well-being of our university community. Through this process, we will continue to examine ways we can fulfill that goal.”

Texas State is filling two new positions dedicated to compliance and has sought help from outside experts on Clery. The university also brought on a new police chief earlier this year who has a background in university law enforcement and Clery requirements. The chief, Laurie Clouse, has formed a Clery compliance committee to circumvent past communication problems.

The Education Department could not be immediately reached for comment Thursday evening.

A spokesman for the department previously said the agency has a "longstanding policy not to comment on institutional oversight activities, program reviews, or investigations — including the acknowledgement that they exist — until the outcome officially has been communicated to the institution."

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