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SACRAMENTO, Feb. 20, 2018 – California Attorney General Xavier Becerra today filed his strong opposition to an application by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to regain its status as a nationally-recognized accreditor. In response to the U.S. Department of Education’s call for written comments, Attorney General Becerra joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in calling for the Department to reject ACICS’s application, noting that the Department terminated ACICS’s recognition over a year ago for pervasive oversight failures and for enabling fraud and abuse by predatory for-profit schools.
ACICS provided accreditation – and thereby access to federal student aid funds – for many of the programs offered by Corinthian Colleges, a now-defunct for-profit school based in California. ACICS continued accrediting Corinthian even after upwards of 20 state and federal agencies initiated investigations into Corinthian, and up until the day Corinthian declared bankruptcy. The California Attorney General’s Office led the charge against Corinthian and its subsidiaries, seeking to put an end to abusive practices that left students under a mountain of debt and far too often without the jobs Corinthian had falsely promised its degrees would provide. The Office ultimately obtained a $1.1 billion judgment against Corinthian on March 23, 2016.
“Education Secretary Betsy DeVos must reject the application submitted by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. It should be a no-brainer,” said Attorney General Becerra. “This company failed to do its job and protect our students, and instead aided and abetted unscrupulous actors like Corinthian Colleges. The California Department of Justice urges Secretary DeVos to do what is right.”
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.
“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 attorneys general write in their comments.
In submitting today’s comment letter, Attorney General Becerra joins the Attorneys General of Massachusetts, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawai’i, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington.