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Attorneys general from five states and Washington, D.C., on Tuesday filed a motion to intervene in the lawsuit the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools is pursuing against the U.S. Department of Education, which last month finalized its decision to terminate the national accreditor.

The council oversees roughly 245 colleges, most of them for-profits. The department decided to de-recognize ACICS over concerns about lax oversight of the collapsed Corinthian Colleges, ITT Technical Institute and other colleges. ACICS sued to block the department's move.

The filing by the six attorneys general, including those representing Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts and New York, said the department cannot be expected to adequately represent the states' interests in the legal fight.

"ACICS’s accreditation failures are both systemic and extreme. If ACICS is successful in its efforts to vacate the secretary’s well-founded decision to terminate ACICS’s recognition as a federally recognized accreditor, the state movants’ interests in protecting their students, ensuring the effectiveness of state regulations and preserving finite state resources will be harmed," they wrote in the filing.