New Reporting Obligations for States Regarding Teacher Preparation Programs


Last week, the U.S. Department of Education “Department”) issued final regulations regarding the teacher preparation program accountability system. The regulations become effective 30 days from the date they are published in the Federal Register—the regulations have not yet been published as of the date of this post.

The goal of the accountability system is to collect and disseminate meaningful data on the quality of teacher preparation programs, provide such programs with ongoing feedback to help them improve, and respond to educator concerns regarding their readiness to enter the classroom after graduation. The regulations apply to all teacher preparation programs within the state, including traditional, alternative routes, and distance learning. Continue Reading

Closing Comments: Time for comments to DOJ regarding the regulation of web accessibility under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act ends Friday

This is the last week to submit comments to the Department of Justice in response to the 123 questions it posed in its supplementalComputer Use_iStock_000005238604_Large advance notice of proposed rulemaking (SANPRM) regarding the regulation of web accessibility under Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act. As an update, the SANPRM was released in May 2016, after the DOJ previously elicited comments on this issue in 2010.

View the questions posed by DOJ and provide comments using the online link. Continue Reading

Department of Education demands intense independent Financial Aid audits

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Inspector released a new guide for independent auditors evaluating Title IV Federal Student Aid compliance by proprietary (for-profit) colleges and universities. The guide places several audit categories under standards more akin to the Federal Student Aid program review process than to traditional independent audits. Could non-profits be next? Continue Reading

Texts to Students: New Developments and Open Questions Under the Telephone Consumer Protection Act

Danger on screen in 3D

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently provided additional guidance about when text messages and automated calls initiated by colleges and universities are exempt from liability under the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA). Below is a brief background of relevant portions of the TCPA, a summary of new guidance from the FCC, and a few open issues to consider. Continue Reading

At the intersection of Title IX/VAWA, FERPA, and public records requests

How should public colleges and universities respond to requests under public records laws for information related to sexual misconduct investigations under Title IX and VAWA? On one hand, institutions are called to share information by public records laws, a desire for transparency, a need to discourage misconduct, and the public’s right to information. On the other hand, the Family Education Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), Title IX, VAWA, and the Department of Education’s guidance call for protecting sexual misconduct records in the important interests of protecting safety, privacy, fairness, and encouraging reporting.

All states have some form of public records laws, which generally operate like the federal Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), whereby public governmental entities – including public colleges and universities – must provide information in response to a proper request. Most public records laws have exemptions for certain categories of information, including exceptions for information that is prohibited from disclosure by another law—such as FERPA—or that would result in an invasion of personal privacy. Relying on these exemptions, public colleges and universities may assert that they are not required to provide information related to sexual misconduct investigations. However, not all states extend these exceptions. Recent litigation and legislation indicate that even private institution police records may be subject to public records disclosure requirements. Continue Reading

6 Pillars for Cops, Communities and Campuses

Today’s Dear Colleague Letter from the U.S. Department of Education urges colleges and universities to seriously consider “community and police relations, racial justice, and officer and public safety.”

In the letter, U.S. Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. incorporates into Department guidance the Final Report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, asking institutions of higher education adopt recommendations that apply to their campuses. Continue Reading

Deferred Compensation Opportunities for Highly Paid Employees of State Universities and Other Governmental Employers

The ability to defer compensation can be a critical component of the financial planning of highly paid individuals. State universities and other governmental employers generally do not have the same tools to enable highly paid employees to defer compensation as are available to executives in the for-profit world. However, special rules for governmental employers allow surprising flexibility. Continue Reading

Supreme Court’s involvement in transgender-restroom issue could bring sweeping changes to many Department of Education regulatory matters

On August 29, 2016, the Gloucester County School Board filed its petition for a writ of certiorari in the Supreme Court of the United States, seeking reversal of a lower court decision requiring the school district to allow students to use restrooms consistent with their gender identity even if that identity is different from their anatomical sex at birth. The petitioners, however, frame the issue in much broader terms, attacking the manner in which the Department of Education (“ED”) announced the rules at issue.  If the Supreme Court elects to decide this case, and also chooses to confront these broader issues relating to ED’s guidance practices, it could have far-reaching consequences for many recent enforcement priorities for ED. Continue Reading

In Case You Missed It: ED Issues Q&A on Title IV Third-Party Servicers

On August 18, 2016, the U.S. Department of Education (the Department) released a question and answer sheet for the most commonly asked questions received regarding third party servicers following the Department’s January 9, 2015 Dear Colleague Letter (GEN 15-01). The questions and answers range from the most basic, such as “What is a third-party servicer?” to more complex questions such as “Does an institution need to require a third-party servicer to sign a Certification By Lower Tier Contractor form?” The Q&A also contains helpful side-by-side charts to distinguish between the functions and services provided by third-party servicers versus non-third-party servicers. Notably, the guidance devotes several questions and answers to the use and disclosure of personally identifiable information (PII) from education records, and the importance of adherence to Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act’s (FERPA) recordkeeping requirements. If you have not had a chance to look it over and your institution uses third-party servicers for administration of Title IV funds, click here to be sure you are on the right track.

NLRB rules that graduate assistants at private colleges and universities may unionize

college entrance with ivy_000007792866_LargeOn August 23, 2016, the National Labor Relations Board (“NLRB” or the “Board”) ruled in a 3-1 decision that graduate students working as teaching and research assistants at private colleges and universities may engage in collective bargaining. In doing so, the NLRB expressly overruled its prior decision in Brown University, which held that graduate assistants did not enjoy this right. Graduate assistants at private institutions may now unionize and bargain on topics such as benefits and working conditions. Continue Reading