Brian Frosh is freely using his newfound power to sue the federal government. This time, he’s made the state a plaintiff in a federal case against Trump administration Education Secretary Betsy DeVos, who recently rescinded a new federal rule that sought to make for-profit colleges more accountable for failing their students.
The Barack Obama administration crafted the Borrower Defense Rule over a two-year period, finalized it last fall and set it effective date as July 1. The rule would have allowed students who take out loans to attend for-profit colleges a chance to apply for federal student loan forgiveness, stopped such schools from making customers students sign arbitration clauses preventing them from suing for fraud, and made schools set money aside to repay the federal government if it forgave their students’ loans.
However, last month, DeVos’ department announced it would delay pieces of the rule taking effect, and that it would craft on a new rule to replace it. DeVos, a proponent of for-profit schooling, called the now-scuttled rule “a muddled process that’s unfair to students and schools,” and said it “puts taxpayers on the hook for significant costs.”
“It’s time to take a step back and make sure these rules achieve their purpose: helping harmed students,” she said in a statement. “It’s time for a regulatory reset.”
DeVos cited a pending case filed against the government by a California trade group that represents for-profit colleges as a reason to delay the rule’s implementation. The newer lawsuit that Maryland entered into yesterday argues that rationale “is a mere pretext” for repealing the rule “and that DeVos’ replacement one “will remove or dilute student rights and protections.” It also says DeVos didn’t follow legal procedure for delaying a federal rule’s implementation and failed to provide proper legal justification for doing so.
The for-profit college issue is tricky. One a case-by-case basis, students can attend such institutions to advance their careers or pad their salaries. However, many have floundered at the expense of students. Last summer, ITT Tech shut down all of its campuses across the United States, including two in Hanover and Owings Mills, leaving its students – many of them people of color and veterans – out to dry.
A similar situation unfolded four years ago when the American Career Institute shut down all of its locations, including outposts in Baltimore, Columbia and Silver Spring, and in 2014 with for-profit chain Corinthian Colleges.
The lawsuit that Frosh joined also includes attorneys general from 17 other states, plus the District of Columbia. It asks a judge to nullify the Department of Education’s delay notice and proceed with the Borrower Defense Rule as planned.
A Department of Education spokeswoman told the AP the suit is “ideologically driven” and that the Obama administration’s rules had “substantive and procedural flaws.”
Frosh has already used his new power to sue the federal government without the governor’s permission to sue President Donald Trump over his attempted travel ban and for allegedly violating the U.S. Constitution’s Emoluments Clause.
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