School and Campus Safety Programs and Requirements in the Elementary and Secondary Education Act and Higher Education Act

Publication Date: April 2007

Publisher: Library of Congress. Congressional Research Service


Research Area: Education; Social conditions



In the United States, more than 72 million students are enrolled in elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education (IHEs). Safeguarding their security while they pursue an education is a paramount concern of federal, state, and local governments, as well as the school districts, schools, and institutions that enroll these students. Both the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 (ESEA), as amended by the No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 (NCLBA; P.L. 107110), and the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA) contain requirements regarding crime and student safety. The ESEA also includes specific grant programs that support efforts to prevent school violence.

ESEA authorizes the federal government's major programs to assist disadvantaged students, address teacher quality issues, provide support to limited English proficient and immigrant students, prevent school violence and drug abuse, and provide support for public school choice in elementary and secondary schools. While the prevention of school violence is not the primary focus of the ESEA, several ESEA programs could potentially contribute to this effort, most notably ESEA Title IV, Part A, the Safe and Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act (SDFSCA). In addition, the ESEA contains specific provisions related to students attending unsafe schools -- the Unsafe School Choice Option.

The HEA authorizes the federal government's major student aid programs to support postsecondary education attendance, as well as other significant programs such as those providing aid to special groups of IHEs and support services to enable disadvantaged students to complete secondary school and enter and complete college. While the HEA does not authorize specific programs to address campus crime and security issues, Section 485(f) of Title IV of the HEA contains statutory requirements related to campus crime and security, known collectively as the Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act (the Clery Act). Institutions must comply with these requirements to participate in the federal student aid programs and other programs authorized by Title IV (e.g., Pell Grants). Unlike funding for K-12 education, there are limited federal funds available through the U.S. Department of Education (ED) to support institutions of higher education in addressing campus crime and security issues.

This report discusses these provisions and programs as they apply to elementary and secondary schools and institutions of higher education. It begins with a description of programs and requirements included in the ESEA, which is followed by a discussion of relevant requirements included in the HEA.

This report will be updated as warranted by legislative action.