US Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, & Pensions

Enzi Criticizes Flawed Investigation Of For-Profit Schools

Thursday, March 10, 2011Craig Orfield (202) 224-6770

Washington, D.C.  –  In the fourth of a series of hearings that have singled out for-profit schools to face charges of improper student recruitment practices, excessive profit taking, and poor student outcomes, U.S. Senator Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Ranking Member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, today called the Committee’s investigations flawed. 

“Unfortunately, by only focusing these hearings on individual examples of a problem in one sector of higher education, we have no understanding of the true extent of the problem, nor have we heard any constructive solutions for solving that problem.”  This persistent focus has led to a disturbing distortion of the facts, which Enzi said have resulted in the “most biased and poorly executed hearings in my nearly 15 years in the Senate.”

Enzi pointed out the numerous flaws in the hearings to date, including credible allegations that a witness may have improperly influenced Department of Education rulemaking and further allegations that another witness may have provided false testimony.  Additionally, the committee received testimony from the Government Accountability Office’s Forensic Audits and Special Investigations Unit that contained a disturbing number of substantive errors, which triggered the reorganization of the FSI unit.

Today’s hearing highlighted a single for-profit institution, Bridgepoint Education, Inc., and focused on a recent audit performed by the Department of Education’s Inspector General, on which the Secretary of Education has yet to act.  “This hearing is an agenda-driven rush to judgment,” Enzi said. “It’s a cart before the horse, a verdict before the trial.

“Make no mistake, the Inspector General’s findings trouble me as much as they do you,” Enzi told the Committee’s Chairman. “These are potentially serious violations of the law, which need to be pursued.  However, a process is in place to objectively review these matters without interference from Congress.”  

He emphasized that Bridgepoint is in the process of responding to the findings and voiced confidence in the process, adding that: “I trust Secretary Duncan to take the appropriate actions.”  

                           

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