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For-Profit College CEO, Facing Criminal Charges, Quits

Ernesto Perez has resigned as CEO of Dade Medical College, days after it was revealed that he is facing criminal charges, The Miami Herald reported. Perez faces two counts of perjury, a misdemeanor, and one count of providing false information through a sworn statement -- all related to his failure to report past criminal arrests or convictions in government forms. Perez spent six months in jail after pleading no contest in 1990 to misdemeanor charges of batter and exposing his genitals to a child. The victim was a 15-year-old fan of the band in which Perez played at the time.

 

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Gainful Employment Session Rescheduled

The U.S. Department of Education has rescheduled the second session of its negotiations over possible new regulations to ensure that vocational programs are preparing students for gainful employment, according to a letter a department official sent to participants. The rule making session was postponed during the government shutdown. It is now scheduled for Nov. 18-20. Negotiators are seeking to find consensus on rules for vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions.

For-Profit CEO Charged With Failing to Report Criminal Past

Ernesto Perez, the CEO of Dade Medical College, a Florida for-profit institution, has been charged with perjury and filing false information for failing on various records to indicate that he has a criminal past, The Miami Herald reported. Perez was asked about his background on forms he filled out when he was appointed to the Florida Commission on Independent Education, which oversees for-profit colleges in the state. Perez pleaded no contest, after a 1990 arrest, to misdemeanor charges of battery and exposing his genitals to a child. The Herald said that the victim was a 15-year-old fan of the heavy metal band in which Perez was then playing. Perez told the Herald that any forms that were not filled out completely were simply the result of an "honest mistake."

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Citing Shutdown, U.S. Cancels Gainful Employment Negotiating Session

The U.S. Education Department, citing the partial shutdown of the federal government, has canceled the second round of negotiations over regulations on vocational programs at community colleges and for-profit institutions.  

The department will reschedule the negotiated-rulemaking session when the government reopens, Lynn Mahaffie, the acting deputy assistant secretary for policy, planning and innovation, wrote in a letter on Friday to members of the rule making committee. The session was originally slated for October 21-23.

The panel is tasked with rewriting the "gainful employment" regulations that were thrown out by a federal judge earlier this year. The rules would cut off federal money flowing to career-training programs if they do not meet certain standards that measure their graduates’ earnings relative to the graduates’ student loan debt.

The Obama administration is proposing tighter standards that would apply to more vocational programs. At the first negotiating session last month, it appeared unlikely that negotiators would come to a consensus on the rules. Even if the committee doesn’t reach an agreement, the Education Department could still move forward with its own proposal. 

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Suspension of military education benefits forces some students to drop out

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The suspension of tuition assistance for active-duty service members during the shutdown is jeopardizing their academic progress and forcing some to withdraw from classes.

California Attorney General Sues Corinthian

Kamala D. Harris, California's attorney general, on Thursday filed a lawsuit against Corinthian Colleges, alleging that the for-profit chain targeted low-income students with false and predatory advertising. The suit alleges that Corinthian, which operates Everest, Heald and WyoTech Colleges, misled potential students about job placement rates. A Corinthian spokesman, in a written statement, said company officials had not had time to review the suit in detail. But the company plans to "vigorously" defend itself, he said.

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Student Arrested for Trying to Poison Pregnant Professor

A student at Virginia College’s Augusta, Ga., campus has been arrested for allegedly giving her pregnant professor a tainted snack cake. Diane Ambrose was charged with reckless conduct after offering her professor a sealed cake she had injected with a foreign substance through the wrapper, WRDW-TV reported. The Richmond County Sheriff's Office says the 12-week-pregnant professor developed a stomach ailment two weeks ago, after eating the treat. Another student knew about Ambrose's alleged plan, but didn’t tell the professor until she knew she had become sick.

Virginia College did not return a call for comment on the condition of the professor and Ambrose's student status. Ambrose, arrested Wednesday, was out on bail Thursday.

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Feds Float Idea of Program-Level Loan Default Rate

An official with the U.S. Department of Education on Tuesday suggested that a panel of negotiators consider including a program-level cohort default rate as part of proposed gainful employment regulations, which would would measure the employment outcomes of vocational programs at for-profit institutions and community colleges. That metric would be a new addition to an annual debt-to-income ratio and a discretionary income ratio.

John Kolotos, the official, who is a negotiator for the rule-making session that began this week, said the department had not vetted the details on how a loan default rate would work. But the department already has an institution-level rate in place, and he said the feds consider a three-year program-level rate of 30 percent (and one year at 40 percent) to be a "viable addition" to gainful employment. It would be a stand-alone measure, he said, meaning academic programs would lose eligibility for federal aid programs if they crossed the threshold, regardless of how they perform on other measures. 

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Education Dept.'s Regulatory Push Is Needed, Inspector General Finds

WASHINGTON -- The U.S. Education Department’s attempts to regulate colleges and universities over the past several years provide good protections for students and taxpayers, the department’s independent investigatory arm has concluded.    

The report by the department’s inspector general was released on the second day of a negotiated rule-making hearing aimed at rewriting the department’s controversial gainful employment regulations. It finds that some type of gainful employment metrics are needed to hold colleges accountable and to protect taxpayer money. The report also applauds the department’s efforts to define a credit hour and require institutions of higher education to be authorized by the state in which they operate.

The inspector general’s office relied on its previous audits and investigations to produce the analysis. It did not appear to evaluate the impact of the regulations or weigh alternative rule proposals.

Representative George Miller, the ranking Democrat on the House education committee, sought the study from the Education Department’s inspector general in response to legislation being pushed by House Republicans to repeal those regulations and prohibit the Obama administration from enacting new ones. The proposal cleared the Republican-led House education committee in July on a mostly party-line vote, with one Democrat supporting the measure. 

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Horn and Kelly on book about role of for-profits

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A new book of essays looks at the role for-profit providers can play in higher education, particularly how they could help promote quality and cost effectiveness. 

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