Education groups sue DeVos for delaying protections for online students

Education groups sue DeVos for delaying protections for online students
© Greg Nash

Two teacher unions are suing the Education Department and Education Secretary Betsy DeVosElizabeth (Betsy) Dee DeVosHillicon Valley: Twitter says Trump 'go back' tweet didn't violate rules | Unions back protests targeting Amazon 'Prime Day' | Mnuchin voices 'serious concerns' about Facebook crypto project | Congress mobilizes on cyber threats to electric grid House Oversight panel demands DeVos turn over personal email records A brief timeline of Trump's clashes with intelligence director Dan Coats MORE over the agency’s delay of rules meant to protect students earning degrees online.

The California Teachers Association (CTA) and the National Education Association (NEA), along with a second grade teacher in Kansas, a fourth grade teacher in California, and a student enrolled in an online program at Western Governors University, allege DeVos is illegally holding up rules that require online universities to notify students of whether the programs in which they are enrolled or plan to enroll meet state licensing standards or have faced adverse actions from the state or accreditor.

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The disclosures are meant to help prospective and enrolled students evaluate whether a particular online or distance education program meets or continues to meet their needs, the groups argue in the 27-page complaint. The complaint was filed by the National Student Legal Defense Network on the groups' behalf in the U.S. District Court in the Northern District of California. 

The final rule was published in December 2016 and took effect on July 1, 2018. According to the groups, the Education Department said it received two letters in February raising questions and concerns about the rule, which served as a catalyst for their decision to issue a delay on July 3, two days after it took effect.

But the groups say the department knew about the concerns addressed before the rule was finalized. 

But the groups say the department knew about those concerns before the rule was finalized. 

CTA and NEA said DeVos’s decision to delay the rule was arbitrary and capricious, in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act, and without good cause, in violation of the Higher Education Act of 1965.

“It’s shocking but not at all surprising that the Department of Education would roll back student protections because this latest brazen attack on student rights is consistent with everything we have seen from the Trump administration and Secretary Betsy DeVos,” NEA President Lily Eskelsen García said in a statement. 

“Without these rules, current and prospective students will remain in the dark. Students will be denied critical information about which programs are right for them and which would be a waste of their time and money.” 

— Updated at 4:23 p.m.