A team investigating fraud by for-profit colleges is getting defanged under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos. Coincidentally, some of DeVos’s top hires in the Department of Education are former deans, lawyers, and executives from for-profit colleges!
According to the New York Times, by the end of the Obama administration, the investigative team was looking into fraudulent job placement claims, advertising, and recruiting practices from several for-profit colleges, including DeVry University. Fast forward to the first few months of the Trump administration, and the DeVry investigation is put on the back burner. By summer of 2017, DeVos appointed Julian Schmoke—a former dean at DeVry—as the team’s supervisor, because this administration has a routine and flagrant disregard for even the most transparent of conflicts of interest.
The team has been relegated to focusing on student loan forgiveness and other cases that, while helpful, don’t exactly go after the big dogs of an industry that has left hundreds of thousands in debt and is responsible for almost all loan fraud claims.
From the Times:
Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, attributed the reduction of the group to attrition and said that “conducting investigations is but one way the investigations team contributes to the department’s broad effort to provide oversight.” She said that none of the new employees who had previously worked in the for-profit education industry had influenced the unit’s work.
Ms. Hill confirmed the investigation, but said it had been suspended early last year before President Trump took office.
The former and current employees disputed Ms. Hill’s account, and said the group and its work had become an issue of contention during meetings with the Trump transition team. Several of the employees said that there had been a staff push to continue the investigation as recently as this year, with no result.
This is like having the former head of a private prison leading a team on criminal justice reform, but let me not give Jeff Sessions any ideas.
Read the rest of the New York Times report here.