Recording of contacts with Education
Department through Senator Dodd's office
On December 10, 2005, a letter was sent to the US
Department of Education addressed to Secretary Spelling with a reference to
the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act and details of Kristine’s tragedy.
Congresswoman Nancy Johnson offered to send a supporting letter to the
Secretary, however it is unknown whether that occurred. Nothing was ever
received in response to that letter.
In May 2006, an email was sent to Senator Dodd’s
office. Senator Dodd was contacted since he has been a member of HELP’s
subcommittee on education. Calls were made to his Washington office which
eventually led to a conversation with a member of his staff, MaryEllen
MaryEllen quickly recognized the merits of my inquiry
and became involved. One of her first steps was to obtain a copy of the
college’s biennial review. Upon receiving the review, a comparison was made
between the review and the police report already in my possession. Many
discrepancies were noted.
A summary of these and other noted discrepancies were
sent to the Department of Education on July 10, 2006 through the offices of
Senator Dodd. Subsequent follow-up resulted in the following sequence:
- July 26, 2006-We were informed
Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools had the expertise to assist
and that they would make every effort to help.
- August 1, 2006-The information was sent by the
Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools to the Office of Postsecondary
- September 8-
The Office of Postsecondary Education referred the matter to the
Office of Safe and Drug Free Schools, who was involved previously.
- Early October-Difficulty was encountered in
determining who, if anyone was addressing the situation.
- October 27-After receiving word that the Inspector
General in the Office of Student Financial Assistance was involved, the
initial written correspondence was received from a
Senior Institutional Review Specialist from
the School Participation Team-NE. While this was considered a positive
development, the correspondence noted that information was requested
from the college which referred to the Clery Act, including the “Annual
Security Report.” The Specialist was immediately informed that the
requested information related to a different, although complementary,
statute and regulations.
- Subsequent to the above
communications, we learned that the Senior Institutional Review
Specialist concluded that investigating the possible noncompliance with
the Drug Free Schools and Campuses Act was not his area and sent
the situation back to the Department of Education in Washington, DC.
- As of December 13, an individual within the
Department of Education has the case to review, but the timetable,
process and which office she represents is uncertain.
- On January 10, 2007, an update from ED was
received. The case was again transferred to a Congressional liaison who
questioned the Senate contact: Is this a Clery inquiry? We quickly
attempted to directed her properly. Given the inquiry, ED is evidently
continues to be at the initial stages of addressing the situation.
- January 18, 2007, MM asked the Department for a
meeting in two weeks to go over the status of the case. They have
informed me that the “inquiry” has just begun and asked that I call back
in two weeks.
- February 7, 2007-Ed has yet to respond to my most
recent email but I will try again today. I’ve asked for a conference
call with you and the caseworkers to give us an “update” on where we are
in the process.
- February 22, 2007-MM, ED & SMG began process to
find a date when the conference call can occur
- March 9, 2007-Confernce call with MM, SMG, Cynthia
Hammond & David Bergeron from ED. Overview of call:
- ED representatives discussed plan send a team
to PSC to do an on-site compliance review beginning in early April
- The review would be similar to a Clery Act
on-site review, but tailored to the specifics of the Drug Free
Schools and Campuses regulations.
- A Clery review usually takes six weeks, but
since this is the first compliance review under the Drug Free
Schools and Campuses regulations, the finalization of the report
would likely take longer
- April 11, 2007, Cynthia Hammond responded to an
update inquiry that “They are scheduled to go at the end of April.”
- April 18, 2007- Cynthia Hammond notified MM that
“Due to events at Virginia Tech, we need to delay the site visit to Paul
Smith College . I will let you know when it is rescheduled.”
- April 23, 2007-MM contacted ED basically advising
them that a delay to fall would not be acceptable given that they knew
of the situation since December 2005
- April 24, 2007 we were informed by Cynthia Hammond
that the on-site compliance review was rescheduled to May 14, 2007
- On May 6, 2007, two Paul Smith’s students drowned
after canoe capsized in an incident strikingly similar to the 2005
- On May 10, 2007 James Moore of Ed called SMG
- Site compliance review began on May 14, 2007
- On May 17, 2007 had further conversation with
James Moore-he was leaving the area that Friday but stated that he would
- Spoke with Mr. Moore in early September, 2007.
His auditors made a repeat visit to Paul Smith’s College and returned
with about four boxes of documents. He was to review their work on
these materials shortly.
- On November 20. 2007, the following response was
received from ED:
“We are still reviewing
working with local authorities (apparently, there is more than
one agency with jurisdiction) to answer questions. I would expect a report
to be issued in early spring (around March?).”
- Message from C. Hammond to Dodd’s office on
February 8, 2008:
“The program review report,
which goes to the institution in draft form, should go out in the next 30 to
60 days. After that, they have an opportunity to respond and their comments
are included in the final program review determination. That generally takes
another three months or so. The final program review determination can be
shared with you and Mr. Guest. I'll be back in touch with you when that
document is available.”
- On March 10, 2008, Dodd’s office was informed that
a draft report was sent to Paul Smith’s College the previous week and
had 90 days to respond. A follow up was planned for June 10, 2008, the
required response date..
- On June 11, 2008, in response to an inquiry,
Dodd’s office was informed that the College’s response was received,
that there was no set time requirement to react to the response and that
the Office of Financial Aid needed to review the response.
- On July 29, 2008, C. Hammond wrote Dodd’s office
in response for a request for an update:
“Paul Smith College sent us a very lengthy reply. We are going
through it now and hope to have a final program review determination in
- On September 16, 2008, ED sent this response to an
additional follow up inquiry:
“We are still reviewing the
information that we received from the school. My understanding is that it is
very detailed and there will probably be a call with school officials to
clarify some of the information. I would guess that we are at least a
month, perhaps two, before a final program review is ready.”
- On October 15, 2008, ED provided the following
information in a telephone call summarized by Dodd’s office:
“I talked to them yesterday
and they are hopeful and confident that they will have their review
completed by the first week in November.”
- ED’s Final Determination was issued on November 7,
- The attached response was prepared in reaction to
the ED Final Determination. Ms. Gitomer
expressed general agreement with the overall comments and committed to
using this as the basis to further press ED on the issue in 2009.
- While the many serious challenges facing the
country as we entered 2009 prevented your office’s attention in 2009, a
decision was made to further delay contact with ED delayed until
President Obama’s appointee was in place, to ensure a fresh look at a
high level in ED.
- This occurred on June 5, 2009, when Ms.
Gitomer met with Lloyd Horwich at ED.
- Subsequent updates from Ms.
Gitomer since then relayed that ED was continuing their
investigation into the topic.
Concerned about the drinking culture on
This site provides information as to
the seriousness of the problem.
In loving Memory of