Attorneys General File Suit Over Gainful Employment Rule

Democratic attorneys general from 17 states and the District of Columbia filed suit against the U.S. Education Department, arguing that the agency illegally delayed enforcement of the Obama-era gainful employment rule, Inside Higher Ed reported. The regulation, which has been in effect since 2015, applies to vocational programs at nonprofit colleges and to all programs at for-profit institutions.

In June, Education Secretary Betsy DeVos announced plans to begin a new rulemaking process on gainful employment. Since then, the department has delayed action on key provisions of the Obama administration regulation, including disclosures to students.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, challenges the department's delays as well as its decision to relax the standards by which some colleges can appeal failing metrics under the rule.

"In delaying and refusing to enforce the rule, the department failed to engage in notice-and-comment rule making, failed to provide a justification for its actions, acted arbitrarily and capriciously and in excess of statutory jurisdiction, authority or limitations, or short of statutory right, and withheld or unreasonably delayed agency action, all in violation of the Administrative Procedure Act," the filing said.

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh led the charge in filing the lawsuit, joined by the attorneys general from California, Connecticut, the District of Columbia, Delaware, Hawaii, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

A department spokeswoman pushed back against the lawsuit.

"This is just the latest in a string of frivolous lawsuits filed by Democratic attorneys general who are only seeking to score quick political points," the spokeswoman said in a written statement. "While this administration, and Secretary DeVos in particular, continue work to replace this broken rule with one that actually protects students, these legal stunts do nothing more than divert time and resources away from that effort."


Related Links

Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh's Press Release

Inside Higher Ed