The U.S. Department of Education is being sued for "illegally" delaying state authorization rules designed to help college students determine in which online university to enroll.
Two union groups, the National Education Association and the California Teachers Association, allege that the department did not follow the correct process to implement the delay.
The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California. It challenges the department’s delay of requirements for online universities' "legal obligation to notify students that the programs in which they’re enrolled or plan to enroll in may fail to meet state licensing standards or may face adverse actions from the state or accreditor."
The rules were due to go into effect on July 1 of this year but have been delayed until July 2020.
In a news release, the unions described the department’s decision to delay the rules as “the latest brazen attack on student rights” in the name of deregulation.
Whether or not the department met the July 1 deadline to officially delay the rules has also been called into question. In a previous statement sent to Inside Higher Ed, the department denied that it missed the July 1 deadline and noted that documents outlining the delay were available for public inspection (but not officially published in the Federal Register) on June 29.
Jared Bass, senior counsel for education and strategy for New America's education policy program, said that "given how the department mishandled the delay, a lawsuit was expected." He added that "all of this could have really been avoided" if the department had issued guidance on how to implement the rules, as several university groups had requested.