Inspector General Will Scrutinize Civil Rights, OPM Providers in 2019

December 3, 2018

The Education Department’s Office of Inspector General will examine the department’s dismissal of civil rights complaints and the relationship between colleges and online program management providers, it said in its fiscal year 2019 annual plan released last week.

The department under Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has been criticized for restricting its investigations of federal civil rights complaints. Among other changes, the department earlier this year gave officials the ability to dismiss complaints that are part of a pattern of similar complaints from the same filer. The department, which was facing a lawsuit from several civil rights groups, said last month that it would reverse that change.

ProPublica found that the department has dismissed more than 1,200 complaints filed under the Obama administration without any corrective action.

Online program management providers -- which include companies like Pearson, 2U and Wiley Education Services -- help existing brick-and-mortar institutions launch online education programs. The inspector general will examine the extent of those companies’ relationships with educational institutions. And it will pay particular attention to disclosures to students and whether contract language involving student recruitment reflects the intent of incentive compensation regulations.

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