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DeVos reinstates for-profit college accrediting group

By Daniel Uria
DeVos reinstates for-profit college accrediting group
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos reinstated the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Universities, an agency that accredits for-profit colleges on Wednesday. Photo by Oliver Contreras/UPI | License Photo

Nov. 21 (UPI) -- Education Secretary Betsy DeVos on Wednesday reinstated an agency that accredits for-profit colleges that was ordered to close by the Obama administration.

DeVos chose to allow the Accrediting Council of Independent Colleges and Universities, which served as a gatekeeper between for-profit colleges and federal funds, to operate for another 12 months under federal supervision.

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"Now that the review is completed, we are eager to move forward and commit all of our energy to reinvigorating and strengthening the organization for a strong future," ACICS President Michelle Edwards said.

The Obama administration cut ties with the group in 2016, stating it failed to prevent abuses by Corinthian Colleges and ITT Technical Institute and "exhibited a profound lack of compliance" with the most basic responsibilities of an accreditor.

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In March, a federal judge ordered DeVos to reconsider the decision to dismiss the agency, stating Obama staff failed to review thousands of pages of evidence.

Senior Education Department official Diane Auer Jones reviewed the record and found ACICS was out of compliance with two of 21 criteria, but had been asked to make changes, such as better monitoring job placement by the colleges it accredited, and had done so.

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In September, Jones recommended DeVos reinstate the council and give it a year to correct the issues.

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DeVos agreed with Jones' ruling, stating the decision by former Education Secretary John B. King Jr., to sever ties with ACICS suffered from "circular reasoning" and "a desire to achieve a preordained result."

Former Obama Education Department official Mike Itzkowitz and other critics of the decision said reinstating ACICS would help protect schools that fail to benefit their students.

"Thousands of students attend these schools, and it's been proven that students who attend these schools are substantially less likely to earn a modest living or pay down their loans," Itzkowitz said.

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Other former Obama administration officials predicted DeVos' decision will be challenged in court.

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