USDE Holds Public Hearings Prior to Negotiated Rulemaking
In This Issue:
- USDE Holds Hearings Prior to Negotiated Rulemaking on Accreditation and Other Issues
- Robert King Nominated as USDE Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education
- USDE Announces Delay in ACICS Recognition Decision
- Federal Judge Rules USDE Delay of Borrower Defense Rules “Procedurally Defective"
On September 6, 2018, the U.S. Department of Education (USDE) held the first of three public hearings in preparation for a negotiated rulemaking on accreditation. USDE announced in the July 21, 2018 Federal Register its intention to hold a negotiated rulemaking on accreditation and a number of other issues (see Federal Update #67).
At the September 6 hearing, held in Washington, DC, those providing testimony included several association representatives, think tanks, consumer advocacy groups, college presidents and several accreditation representatives. Prominent themes in the comments included 1) the agenda for the negotiated rulemaking is too large for one committee; 2) USDE needs to strengthen regulations, not reduce them; 3) competency-based education in the context of regular and substantive interaction should be addressed; and 4) institutional mission needs to be protected. Ideas from this meeting may become part of the final negotiated rulemaking agenda.
Two more public hearings were scheduled, in New Orleans, LA on September 11, 2018 and in Sturtevant, WI on September 13, 2018.
On August 27, 2018, the President nominated Robert L. King as the Assistant Secretary for Postsecondary Education at USDE. The Assistant Secretary heads USDE’s Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE) which oversees regulations governing colleges and universities, including the recognition of accrediting organizations. King has recently served as president of the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education and previously served as president of the Arizona Community Foundation and chancellor of the State University of New York System. The position of Assistant Secretary requires confirmation by the U.S. Senate; a hearing on his nomination has not yet been scheduled.
In an Order dated August 28, 2018, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos delayed a decision by USDE on the recognition status of Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) until September 28, 2018. USDE’s earlier decision to remove ACICS’ recognition was remanded back to the Secretary by a U.S. District Court ruling in March 2018.
As Secretary DeVos announced in an April 3, 2018 Order, ACICS is federally recognized until USDE reaches a final decision that takes into account the additional documentation required and received by USDE but not previously reviewed. The Secretary gave ACICS until May 30, 2018 to file an additional written submission for renewed recognition. USDE’s decision had been expected by September 4, 2018.
U.S. Federal District Court Judge Randolph Moss ruled on September 12, 2018 that USDE’s delay of the borrower defense rules is "procedurally defective" because USDE did not hold a negotiated rulemaking on the possible postponement of the rules. A number of state attorneys general, consumer groups and others sued because of USDE’s delay of the rule. Borrower defense regulations state the conditions under which students may obtain relief from federal loans.
The Judge’s opinion did not direct USDE to take any specific action regarding the delay of the rules. He set a hearing for September 14, 2018 to rule on the remedies to be provided as a result of his findings.
On July 31, 2018, USDE published a call for comment in the Federal Register on proposed modifications to the borrower defense regulations. The comment period closed on August 30, 2018.