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Durbin Calls On Accreditor To Investigate Reports Of Misleading Practices By Dream Center

"New Owner Of The Art Institutes May Have Misled Students About The Accreditation Status Of Several Of Its Campuses

WASHINGTON—U.S. Senate Democratic Whip D--k Durbin (D-IL) today pressed The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) on recent reports that Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), the owner of Art Institutes, misled students about the accreditation status of several of its campuses including the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg.

Durbin’s letter to Dr. Barbara Gellman-Danley, President of HLC, comes after a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article, which reported that DCEH failed to inform students at the Art Institute of Colorado, the Art Institute of Michigan, and the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg of the loss of accreditation and the potentially negative impact on students’ ability to transfer credits or get a job – seemingly in direct defiance of HLC’s directive. In addition, the article notes that DCEH continued to claim “in statements online and in school catalogs” that the campuses remained accredited by HLC.

“If true, it appears these omissions and misrepresentations would give Illinois and other students a legitimate basis to seek and receive a federal student loan discharge under the Borrower Defense authority in the Higher Education Act. In addition, it would show that DCEH has not departed from the predatory practices of EDMC – making it even harder to see how their ownership and management of these campuses is in the best interest of students – and should put future accreditation by HLC in serious doubt. I urge HLC to immediately investigate the allegations made in the Post-Gazette article and take appropriate action to protect current and future students,” Durbin wrote in his letter to Dr. Gellman-Danley.

In June 2017, Durbin and several of his colleagues wrote about their concerns with the proposed sale of Education Management Corporation’s (EDMC) for-profit college chains to The Dream Center Education Holdings. In his letter, Durbin noted EDMC’s record of unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices.

Full text of today’s letter is available here and below:

June 26, 2018

Dear Dr. Gellman-Danley:

I write today about troubling reports that Dream Center Education Holdings (DCEH), the owner of Art Institutes, misled students about the accreditation status of several of its campuses including the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg.

In June 2017, several of my colleagues and I wrote to you with concerns about the proposed acquisition by Dream Center Education Holdings of institutions owned by for-profit Education Management Corporation (EDMC) – which required Higher Learning Commission (HLC) approval.[1] In our letter, we noted EDMC’s record of unfair, deceptive, and abusive practices. In your July 13 response, you wrote:

Certainly EDMC’s corporate history, particularly with regard to its treatment of students, and [DCEH’s] willingness and ability to change that history once the institutions are under their control, is an important consideration. A key inquiry is whether the details of the transaction truly demonstrate that it will be in the best interest of students.

HLC subsequently approved the acquisition but, in doing so, also removed accreditation from DCEH’s newly-acquired Art Institute of Colorado, the Art Institute of Michigan, and the Illinois Institute of Art in Chicago and Schaumburg – transitioning these institutions to “candidates for accreditation.” HLC noted that the loss of accreditation could have serious consequences for current and prospective students and that students “should know that their courses or degrees are not accredited by HLC and may not be accepted in transfer to other colleges and universities or recognized by prospective employers.” Given these serious risks, HLC required the institutions to provide students with “proper advisement and accommodations.”[2]

But, a recent Pittsburgh Post-Gazette article[3] reports that DCEH failed to inform students of the loss of accreditation and the potentially negative impact on students’ ability to transfer credits or get a job – seemingly in direct defiance of HLC’s directive. In addition, the article notes that DCEH continued to claim “in statements online and in school catalogs” that the campuses remained accredited by HLC.

If true, it appears these omissions and misrepresentations would give Illinois and other students a legitimate basis to seek and receive a federal student loan discharge under the Borrower Defense authority in the Higher Education Act. In addition, it would show that DCEH has not departed from the predatory practices of EDMC – making it even harder to see how their ownership and management of these campuses is in the best interest of students – and should put future accreditation by HLC in serious doubt. I urge HLC to immediately investigate the allegations made in the Post-Gazette article and take appropriate action to protect current and future students.

Thank you for your consideration of my concerns. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely,

Cc: Mr. Julian Schmoke, Chief Enforcement Officer, U.S. Department of Education

The Honorable Lisa Madigan, Attorney General, State of Illinois

Dr. Al Bowman, Executive Director, Illinois Board of Higher Education "

https://www.durbin.senate.gov/newsroom/press-releases/durbin-calls-on-accreditor-to-investigate-reports-of-misleading-practices-by-dream-center-education-holdings

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB

7 replies (most recent on top)

The Dream Center was a worst predator than EDMC. The new CEO totally disrespects any accreditation body as well as his own compliance department. He absolutely DOES NOT CARE! If the other brands want to survive he needs to be let go NOW!

He has brought all of the people who worked with him at his former school (Grand Canyon U) who have the same ethics, or at least don't question his.

The sorry thing is that everyone thought this sale was actually going to save the AI institution, instead they cared only about earning the TIV and bleeding the schools down to death!!

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-7tos

They claimed the were accredited. Not accredited.

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-3nap

ObamahatesMe is a Troll. And not even a good one.

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-2axb

Not sure how you are going to refute facts when the website literally said "we remain accredited by the higher learning commission as a candidate school seeking accreditation." I have the screenshots. I sent them to Durbin to look into this, myself. And guess what? The Illinois campuses have ceased enrollment.

Womp. Womp.

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-2fsp

Totally INCORRECT Senator Dumbell!!!

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-2wss

@TVN6vWB-1ybm, how much of your school's funding comes directly or indirectly from the government?

Ruh roh, Scammy!

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Post ID: @TVN6vWB-kuh

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