Only a handful of people remain on a special team at the Department of Education tasked with investigating possibly fraudulent activities at large for-profit colleges, with current and former employees telling The New York Times their duties changed after Education Secretary Betsy DeVos hired people who once worked at those for-profit institutions.
The team was created in the wake of the 2016 collapse of Corinthian Colleges, as complaints started to flood in about for-profit institutions and their false advertising and program claims. At the end of the Obama administration, the team had about 12 people, but now, there are just three, and they are focusing on processing student loan forgiveness applications, the Times reports. Last year, investigators were looking into everything from the advertising to job placement claims at such for-profit schools as DeVry, but that investigation came to a screeching halt in early 2017, just a few months before DeVos named Julian Schmoke, a former dean at DeVry, as the team's new supervisor.
Members of the team were also investigating Bridgepoint Education and Career Education Corporation, but those cases have been shuttered, too, the Times reports; former employees of those institutions now work for DeVos: Robert Eitel as her senior counselor and Diane Auer Jones as her senior adviser on postsecondary education. Elizabeth Hill, a spokeswoman for the Education Department, told the Times in a statement that none of these new employees who used to be at for-profit schools have influenced the work of the unit. Read more about the team and new hires at The New York Times. Catherine Garcia