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Virginia Tech response broke law

The US government has said Virginia Tech university broke the law by waiting two hours to tell the campus that a gunman was loose at the outset of the deadliest mass shooting in modern American history.

In a report, the Department of Education rejected Virginia Tech's argument that its response to the 2007 shooting rampage met standards in place at the time.

"Virginia Tech's failure to issue timely warnings about the serious and ongoing threat deprived its students and employees of vital, time-sensitive information and denied them the opportunity to take adequate steps to provide for their own safety," the report stated.

The department found in January that the university violated the Clery Act, which requires notification of on-campus threats to students and employees.

The report found the school broke the law by failing to issue a timely warning to the Blacksburg campus after student Seung-Hui Cho shot dead two students in a dormitory early on April 16 2007.

The university sent out an email to the campus more than two hours later, about the time Cho was chaining shut the doors to a classroom building where he killed 30 more students and staff, then himself.

The report also determined that the school failed to follow its own procedures for providing such notification.

Virginia Tech could be fined £17,400 for each violation, for a total of £34,800. The school could also lose some or all its £62 million in government student financial aid, though such an outcome is considered unlikely.

A decision will be made by a Department of Education panel.

Virginia Tech spokesman Larry Hincker said the school would probably appeal if it was sanctioned.

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