Penn State is facing a record fine for the way it mishandled the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse case.
The U.S. Department of Education wants to fine the school $2.4 million for failing to disclose what school officials knew about Sandusky's sex crimes.
Sandusky, a football coach under legendary head coach Joe Paterno, was convicted in 2012 of sexually abusing several young boys. Some of the sex crimes occurred on Penn State's campus.
The penalty is punishment for breaking the law known as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act.
"For colleges and universities to be safe spaces for learning and self-development, institutions must ensure student safety -- a part of which is being transparent about incidents on their campuses. Disclosing this information is the law," U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell said in a statement Thursday.
The Clery Act requires colleges and universities to report publicly each year the number of criminal offenses on campus. Schools have to give the information to the Department of Education [DOE], which then provides it to the public.
The $2.4 million fine is the largest ever levied by the DOE, nearly seven times the highest fine to date, which was $350,000 against Eastern Michigan in 2007.
Penn State officials did not want to comment before thoroughly reviewing the DOE's 239-page report. Their statement expressed regret for the past and vigilance in the future.
"Today, Penn State has robust Clery training and collection processes in place. We have many initiatives, including 18 focused on fighting sexual assault and misconduct, with the creation of new positions, mandatory employee training, a universal hotline and many others. Part of our process includes regular evaluation of our efforts, the analysis of best practice and incorporation of learnings into our operations," the statement read, in part with a link to the school's "major efforts."
Just last week, a jury awarded assistant Penn State football coach Mike McQueary $7.3 million in lost wages and damages. McQueary, a key witness in the trial against Sandusky, testified he told Paterno in 2001 that he'd seen Sandusky sexually abusing a boy in a shower inside the school's locker room.
To date, the scandal has cost the school upwards of $100 million in lawsuit settlements to victims and their families, legal fees and penalties assessed by the NCAA, according to a report in the New York Times.