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HERRING CALLS ON EDUCATION SECRETARY DEVOS TO REJECT ACCREDITING AGENCY THAT APPROVED FAILING FOR-PROFIT SCHOOLS
~ State attorneys general oppose allowing Virginia-based ACICS back into the accrediting business after previous failures ~
RICHMOND (February, 21, 2018) - Attorney General Mark R. Herring is opposing an application by the Virginia-based Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to regain its status as a nationally-recognized accreditor, noting the accreditor's previous "extreme and far-reaching oversight failures" and the serious harm it caused students and taxpayers across the country by enabling fraud and abuse by predatory for-profit schools.
In response to the U.S. Department of Education's call for written comments, AG Herring joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in calling for the Department to reject ACICS's application for initial recognition. In the comments, the attorneys general note that the DOE terminated ACICS's recognition just over a year ago due to ACICS's pervasive oversight failures, so any attempt by ACICS to become nationally recognized once again "should be treated with great skepticism." Under the Department's regulations, the attorneys general assert, ACICS cannot meet the threshold eligibility requirements for receiving national recognition.
"ACICS gave a veneer of credibility to predatory and fraudulent for-profit schools that left students and taxpayers saddled with debt instead of employable skills," said Attorney General Herring. "Given the previous failures that led DOE to revoke its recognition, I don't see any reason that ACICS should be allowed back into the accrediting business."
Accreditors serve a critical role in ensuring that schools provide students with an education that meets minimum standards of quality. They function as gatekeepers, protecting students from abuse by institutions that offer education of little-to-no value. When accreditors fail to fulfill this responsibility, they enable abusive schools to engage in misconduct that can be devastating to students.
According to the comments, ACICS's oversight failures include its decision to extend accreditation to underperforming for-profit schools including a large number of campuses operated by the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. ACICS continued accrediting Corinthian even after upwards of 20 state and federal agencies initiated investigations into Corinthian's fraud, and up until the day Corinthian declared bankruptcy.
"ACICS's previous stint as a nationally recognized accreditor provides a stark illustration of the damage done to both students and taxpayers when accreditors fail to fulfill their oversight responsibilities. During these years, ACICS willingly accredited predatory schools that left students across the country mired in debt and without the quality education they were promised," the comments state.
In addition to Attorney General Herring, attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Washington joined today's comments.
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