WASHINGTON, D. C. – Attorney General Karl A. Racine, along with the attorneys general of four states, today filed a motion to intervene in the case of ACICS v. King (CA 16-2448), a lawsuit to defend a decision by the Department of Education (DOE). The DOE chose not to renew the credentials of the Accrediting Council for Colleges and Schools (ACICS), a national agency that the Secretary of Education determined had accredited predatory, for-profit schools that took advantage of student borrowers.
“State attorneys general are charged with protecting consumers, including students, and our office strongly supported the Department of Education’s decision to terminate ACICS as a federally sanctioned accrediting body,” Attorney General Racine said. “ACICS accredited predatory schools like Corinthian Colleges and ITT Tech, helping them defraud students and gain hundreds of millions of dollars from student loans in the process. We want to ensure that the Department of Education’s decision continues to stand.”
In an April 2016 letter, Attorney General Racine and counterparts from 12 states wrote to DOE, asserting, “ACICS’s accreditation failures are both systemic and extreme.” In their letter, the attorneys general criticized ACICS repeated accreditation of for-profit schools that were under investigation or had been shown to have defrauded students. A copy of the April 2016 Comment Letter is attached. The DOE, following receipt of the letter and other public comments, chose not to renew ACICS’s status as an accreditor.
In December 2016, ACICS filed suit in U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia against DOE and the Education Secretary. The suit challenges the decision not to renew ACICS as a sanctioned accreditor of for-profit schools. In their motion to intervene in the lawsuit, the filing attorneys general argue they have an interest in ensuring that the judgment of federally recognized accreditors is used correctly to police the quality of the majority of schools and colleges.
According to the pleading filed today, “If ACICS is successful in its efforts to vacate the Secretary’s well-founded decision to terminate ACICS’s recognition as a federally recognized accreditor, the State Movants’ interests in protecting their students, ensuring the effectiveness of state regulations, and preserving finite state resources will be harmed,” state the attorneys general.
The motion to intervene is pending before U.S. District Court Judge Reggie Walton. A copy of the motion and a supporting memorandum is attached.