This week, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) published on its website a list of “pending cases currently under investigation” by its Office for Civil Rights (“OCR”). Previously, OCR had released a list of higher education institutions under investigation for possible violations of law related to the handling of sexual violence and sexual harassment under
Instructor. Regular. Substantive. Those three words, as defined by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) Office of Inspector General (“OIG”), resulted in OIG’s recent recommendation that Western Governors University (“WGU”) repay to ED approximately $713 million in federal funds. An otherwise eligible institution loses its ability to participate in federal student financial aid programs under
On October 24, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) published an interim final rule to delay until July 1, 2018 the effective date of selected provisions of what have become known as the borrower defense to repayment regulations, which were published November 1, 2016. In the interim final rule, ED explained that it believes delay
During the Obama Administration the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) opened wider the gates of private colleges and universities to organized labor.
On June 26, 2017, in Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia, Inc. v. Comer, the U.S. Supreme Court held unconstitutional under the Free Exercise Clause Missouri’s refusal to award a playground resurfacing grant to a church. The Court ruled for the first time that the government’s decision to exclude churches because of their religious identity from
On June 14, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) announced its plan to convene negotiated rulemaking committees to consider revisions to two major sets of regulations that were developed by the Obama Administration. ED also announced that it would delay indefinitely the implementation of one of those sets of regulations—which was scheduled to take effect
President Trump signed into law on March 27 a joint resolution to nullify U.S. Department of Education (ED) regulations relating to teacher preparation programs pursuant to the Congressional Review Act (CRA). As noted in its Statement of Administration Policy, the White House “strongly supports the actions taken . . . to begin to nullify unnecessary
On March 27, the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (“Middle States”) released for public comment a draft policy on its expectations for honesty and truthfulness in published information and in student recruitment practices. Among other things, the policy would prohibit Middle States-accredited institutions from paying commissions to agents to recruit international students. Middle States
Last week, The Chronicle of Higher Education reported that it had analyzed data released by the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) and concluded that 177 private colleges and universities failed ED’s financial responsibility regulations: 112 not-for-profit and 65 for-profit. The Chronicle’s reporting comes on the heels of a February 24, 2017 Office of Inspector General
On 19 January, the U.S. Department of Education published regulations to establish procedural rules governing certain proceedings under the Department’s borrower defense regulations and to update the Department’s related hearing procedures for actions to establish liability against a higher education institution. The regulations were effective immediately on 19 January, but the Department will accept comments
On February 22, the U.S. Departments of Education and Justice (“ED” and “DOJ,” respectively, and collectively, the “Departments”) issued a two-page Dear Colleague Letter to “withdraw and rescind” policy and guidance reflected in two documents issued by the Obama Administration. Those guidance documents interpreted Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 (“Title IX”) and its
On January 18, 2017, as one of the last actions of the outgoing Obama administration, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and fifteen other federal agencies (the “Agencies”) issued a final rule overhauling the regulations (82 Fed. Reg. 7149, Jan. 19, 2017) intended to safeguard individuals participating in research, often referred to
On December 7, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) issued an Electronic Announcement providing guidance about the eligibility requirements that apply if a student wishes to receive a closed school discharge of a Title IV loan. In general, a student borrower may receive a discharge of a Title IV loan if the borrower (1)
On December 19, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (“ED”) announced that following an 18-month review, it had denied Charlotte School of Law (“CSL”) recertification to participate in federal student financial aid programs under Title IV of the Higher Education Act. The denial ended CSL’s participation in the Title IV programs effective December 31, 2016.
On August 18, the U.S. Department of Education issued a series of questions and answers related to “third-party servicers”. This recent guidance follows the issuance of a Dear Colleague Letter in January 2015 that addressed institutional responsibilities and requirements for institutions participating in the Title IV federal student financial aid programs that choose to enter
On July 1, the U.S. Department of Education launched the Federal Student Aid Feedback System, an online portal that allows federal student aid customers to submit complaints, provide positive feedback, and report allegations of suspicious activity regarding the federal student aid programs. The Feedback System was identified as a primary objective of the “Student Aid Bill of Rights” proposed by President Obama in March of 2015.
This new feedback system is part of a larger effort by ED to enhance its oversight and enforcement capabilities with regards to student loan borrowing. Although it does not create any new requirements for institutions participating in the federal student financial aid programs, the feedback system will provide new avenues for customers to alert ED about potential compliance issues or misconduct.
The U.S. Department of Education and Department of Justice recently weighed in on the obligations of school districts, colleges, and universities to provide civil rights protections for transgender students. On May 13, 2016, the Departments issued a Dear Colleague Letter that summarizes the responsibilities of school districts, colleges, and universities that receive federal financial assistance under the Departments’ interpretation of federal law, including Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act. Here, we focus on the DCL’s guidance pertinent to compliance with FERPA.
Colleges and universities across the country are finding new and innovative ways to use drones in the classroom. While speaking at the AUVSI annual conference in New Orleans this morning, FAA Administrator Michael Huerta announced the release of a new Legal Interpretation that will expand the scope of permissible unmanned aircraft system (UAS) operations by students and educational institutions.
On April 1, the U.S. Department of Education issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to seek comment on certain issues related to teacher preparation programs offered by institutions of higher education via distance education.
On March 30 the U.S. Department of Education issued an Electronic Announcement asking postsecondary education institutions to protect students against misleading information from “debt relief” companies.
On March 8, a the three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit affirmed a lower court’s decision rejecting a challenge to the U.S. Department of Education’s “gainful employment” regulations. The regulations, which took effect July 1, 2015 (with the exception of certain disclosure requirements that will take effect
On January 25, the National Science Foundation issued a statement to remind the 2,000 colleges, universities, and other institutions that receive NSF funding that NSF requires its awardees to comply with Title IX of the Education Amendments Act of 1972, which prohibits educational funding recipients from engaging in sex discrimination, including sexual harassment and gender violence.
NSF’s statement, which follows multiple recent reports of sexual harassment in the science community, “reiterates [NSF’s] unwavering dedication to inclusive workplaces. NSF does not tolerate sexual harassment and encourages members of the scientific community who experience such harassment to report such behavior immediately.” NSF also encouraged NSF-funded researchers and students to “hold colleagues accountable to the standards and conditions set forth in Title IX, and to inform their institutions of violations.” NSF directs people who experience or witness harassment to contact their Title IX Coordinator or NSF’s Office of Diversity and Inclusion.
The U.S. Department of Justice announced on January 4 that Kent State University (KSU) has agreed to pay $145,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging that KSU had a policy that prevented students with psychological disabilities from keeping emotional support animals in university-operated student housing. This settlement follows a decision by the United States District Court
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General (“OIG”) recently released its Work Plan for Fiscal Year 2016. The Work Plan discusses OIG’s anticipated reviews and audits of HHS programs and operations over the coming year. As is typical, the FY 2016 Work Plan includes many items of interest to recipients