Consumer Advocates Again Sue ED Over ACICS Documents

By Allie Bidwell, NASFAA Senior Reporter

The National Student Legal Defense Network (NSLDN) is again suing the Department of Education (ED), seeking a court order to require Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to release documents that the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) submitted to ED in May as it seeks to continue as a federally recognized accreditor.

The complaint is the latest in a tedious legal battle surrounding the troubled for-profit college accreditor, which under the Obama administration was stripped of its federal recognition largely due to its oversight of the large, for-profit college chains Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute, both of which were shuttered in recent years after having been the target of complaints from former students.

Before its termination, ACICS accredited more than 200 institutions nationwide, many of them for-profits. But the accreditation agency applied for recognition last September, saying it had made significant reforms following its initial termination. DeVos in April announced she would review the accreditor's petition for federal recognition, and said that until a final determination is made ACICS's status as a federally recognized accreditor would be been reinstated.

The new complaint from NSLDN is the fourth time in five months that the nonprofit advocacy organization has taken legal action over proceedings related to ACICS's petition for federal recognition. The organization earlier this year successfully sued on behalf of The Century Foundation (TCF), with ED releasing thousands of pages of materials ACICS submitted in its application for recognition. NSLDN also sued on behalf of TCF in April to compel ED to release an internal analysis that showed ACICS did not meet several standards for recognition. The group also joined with the Harvard Project on Predatory Student Lending to sue ED in May after additional documents ACICS submitted were not made public.

"Secretary DeVos clearly wants this critical public process to take place behind closed doors," said Alex Elson, senior counsel at NSLDN, in a statement. "NSLDN is committed to protecting students and taxpayers to make sure that does not happen."

 

Publication Date: 7/10/2018


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