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Florida's DeSantis sues Biden administration over federal accreditation of universities

Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday he is suing the Biden administration, saying federal accreditation for Florida universities is unconstitutional. DeSantis said the accreditation interferes with his efforts to control Florida higher education. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI
Florida Governor Ron DeSantis said Thursday he is suing the Biden administration, saying federal accreditation for Florida universities is unconstitutional. DeSantis said the accreditation interferes with his efforts to control Florida higher education. File Photo By Gary I Rothstein/UPI | License Photo

June 22 (UPI) -- Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis said Thursday he's suing the Biden administration in a bid to stop private agencies from accrediting Florida universities that get federal funds.

DeSantis said the federal government is using accrediting agencies to block what he describes as his actions to "bring increased transparency and accountability to public colleges and universities."

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Federal law governs accreditation of colleges and universities that receive federal funds.

The lawsuit is an effort to overturn federal control of the accreditation process. It accuses the federal government of "dictating" education standards to Florida colleges and universities.

The DeSantis suit seeks to have the federal statute on accreditation requirements declared unconstitutional.

DeSantis made it clear he resents the federal authority over accreditation for Florida schools getting federal money and believes it stands in the way of what he wants to do with education in Florida.

"I will not allow Joe Biden's Department of Education to defund America's #1 higher education system all because we refuse to bow to unaccountable accreditors who think they should run Florida's public universities," DeSantis said in a statement.

DeSantis' statement said the federal accreditation process is interfering with his efforts to run Florida's public universities to "reorient the mission of our colleges and universities away from purveying destructive ideologies."

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An example of DeSantis' education efforts are three education bills he signed in May that ban higher education institutions from funding programs that promote diversity, equity and inclusion.

Those laws bar university courses and curriculum that discusses concepts such as critical race theory or others that examine systemic oppression from racism, sexism or white privilege.

The suit alleges violation of the private non-delegation doctrine, the Tenth Amendment and the Spending Clause, the Appointments Clause and the Administrative Procedure Act.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges is Florida's accrediting agency for postsecondary education. But DeSantis' suit doesn't name the agency.

The suit states that private accrediting agencies "enjoy near limitless power over state institutions" but DeSantis didn't sue any of the agencies.

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