Virginia Tech’s response to the Department of Education’s preliminary findings that the school violated federal law by not issuing a campus-wide warning on April 16, 2007, was to pay some $9,000.00 to an “expert” to write a dissenting opinion.
Tech turned to Delores A. Stafford, President & CEO of D. Stafford & Associates and former police chief of George Washington University. Ms. Stafford describes herself as an expert on the Clery Act (the law requiring schools to issue warnings). Does anyone think that Ms. Stafford would write an analysis saying that the institution paying her nearly ten thousand dollars violated federal law? Because Stafford took money, her opinion is not just tainted—it is next to worthless.
At the heart of the problem is what was the Virginia Tech administration doing after the double homicide at West Ambler Johnston Hall? Why did it take over two hours for the school to issue a vaguely worded warning—just moments before Cho slaughtered 30 people at Norris Hall?
Stafford notes that the Clery Act does not give a timeframe for issuing the warning notice. Then she says that 25% of the schools queried indicated that in 2006—a year before the Tech tragedy—they were issuing warnings within an hour of an incident. The fact that these schools were issuing warnings within an hour, following the guidelines of the Clery Act, undercuts Stafford’s whole argument.
Furthermore, how can Stafford say that the act was not violated when 30 people were murdered because of a delay in notification? Ms. Stafford also needs to address why parts of Virginia Tech took the initiative and locked down. She never addresses the inconsistencies in Tech’s response to the double homicides.
Had a warning been issued on the Tech campus, thirty people in Norris Hall would probably be alive today. Clearly, Delores Stafford’s opinion was bought and paid for—that is evident in her own words.