A special team at the Department of Education, containing lawyers and investigators looking into the fraudulent activities of for-profit colleges, has been effectively disbanded and assigned other tasks. Coincidentally, Betsy DeVos, education secretary, hired former dean of DeVry Julian Schmoke shortly after ending the investigations into the advertising and recruitment policies and job placement claims of institutions similar to and including DeVry Education Group.
Now the greatly reduced team, containing just three employees, is focused on processing student loan forgiveness applications and investigation small compliance cases. The previous investigations into the large for-profit colleges: Devry, Bridgepoint Education, and Career Education Corporation, have all been put to rest.
The investigations into the predatory activities of these institutions started in 2016, when Corinthian Colleges was accused of fraudulent activities including misrepresenting job placement rates and program offerings. Many times, students would be left with very large amounts of debt but no actual degree. Yet, those investigations have been cut off under the new administration, an administration that has hired several people formerly associated with those institutions being investigated.
The former chief of staff under President Obama, Aaron Ament, states that the investigations were intended to protect students. “Unfortunately, Secretary DeVos seems to think the colleges need protection from their students,” said Ament who is now working as the President of the National Student Legal Defense Network. It would seem Mr. Ament has a point, considering DeVos has rolled back or sought to delay regulations that were attempts at stopping the predatory practices of the for-profit college sector.
Senator Elizabeth Warren has fought hard to see those regulations come to fruition, and she has harsh words regarding the new Education Secretary’s stance, “Secretary DeVos has filled the department with for-profit college hacks who only care about making sham schools rich and shutting down investigations into fraud.”
The investigations were successfully finding evidence of fraudulent claims before being shut down by DeVos and crew. In fact, DeVry had agreed to pay $100 million to settle a suit about their misleading practices regarding advertising unsubstantiated post-graduation employment and salary numbers in an effort to lure students into their programs.
It is probably coincidence that DeVos shut down the investigations into for-profit colleges, and then hired a bunch of people from said colleges to run the her department, right?
Read more about the canceled investigations, “Education Department Unwinds Unit Investigating Fraud at For-Profits” written by Danielle Ivory, Erica L. Green and Steve Eder and posted by The New York Times on May 13, 2018