Attorney General Peter F. Kilmartin joined a coalition of states in opposing an application by the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS) to regain its status as a nationally-recognized accreditor, noting the accreditor's "extreme and far-reaching oversight failures" and the serious harm it caused students and taxpayers across the country by enabling fraud and abuse by predatory for-profit schools.
In response to the U.S. Department of Education's call for written comments, Attorney General Kilmartin joined a coalition of 20 attorneys general in calling for the Department to reject ACICS's application for initial recognition. In the comments, the attorneys general note that the Department terminated ACICS's recognition just over a year ago due to ACICS's pervasive oversight failures, so any attempt by ACICS to become nationally recognized once again "should be treated with great skepticism." Under the Department's regulations, the attorneys general assert, ACICS cannot meet the threshold eligibility requirements for receiving national recognition.
"For-profit schools overpromised and underdelivered, leaving students laden with debt and no real opportunity for employment in their chosen field, and it was ACICS that failed to properly regulate these corporations. ACICS has proven to not be able to properly accredit schools, and Secretary DeVos should reject their request to again be a recognized as an accreditor," said Attorney General Kilmartin.
Accreditors serve a critical role in ensuring that schools provide students with an education that meets minimum standards of quality. They function as gatekeepers, protecting students from abuse by institutions that offer education of little-to-no value. When accreditors fail to fulfill this responsibility, they enable abusive schools to engage in misconduct that can be devastating to students.
According to the comments, ACICS's oversight failures include its decision to extend accreditation to a large number of campuses operated by the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges. ACICS continued accrediting Corinthian even after upwards of 20 state and federal agencies initiated investigations into Corinthian's fraud, and up until the day Corinthian declared bankruptcy.
"ACICS's previous stint as a nationally recognized accreditor provides a stark illustration of the damage done to both students and taxpayers when accreditors fail to fulfill their oversight responsibilities. During these years, ACICS willingly accredited predatory schools that left students across the country mired in debt and without the quality education they were promised," the comments state.
Attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Virginia, and Washington joined today's comments.