On October 4, 2019, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed AB 1313 into law. Effective January 1, 2020, AB 1313 extends to private postsecondary institutions and prohibits schools from the following:
Refusing to provide a transcript for a current or former student on the grounds that the student owes a debt;
Conditioning the provision of a transcript on the payment of a debt;
Charging a higher fee for obtaining a transcript or providing less favorable treatment of a transcript request because a student owes a debt; or
Using a transcript issuance as a tool for debt collection.
Colleges should evaluate their current Transcripts/Records on Hold policies to ensure that California campuses do not restrict a student from obtaining their transcript on the basis of a debt owed.
On July 12, 2019, California Governor, Gavin Newsom, signed AB 381 into law, amending Section 67386 of the Education Code. Effective January 1, 2020, the bill conditions the receipt of state funds for student financial assistant on postsecondary institutions (as well as community colleges and the CSU/UC systems) providing outreach programming regarding intimate partner and dating violence as part of every incoming student orientation.
On November 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Education published the Final Regulations for accreditation and state authorization. This notice focuses on the updates to State Authorization of Distance and Correspondence Education. The effective date will be July 1, 2020, with early implementation allowed at the discretion of each institution or agency for sections § 600.2, § 600.9, § 668.43 and § 668.50 (described herein). The rule is the product of consensus negotiated rulemaking. The regulations address the role of reciprocity agreements, update the language regarding student location, clarify required state authorizations for distance education programs, and revise consumer disclosure requirements. Continue reading U.S. Department of Education Publishes State Authorization Rule→
Nothing is more unwelcome than a big surprise after your institution has invested hours and dollars in a new instructional location. Up front due diligence is essential, and it needs to identify issues that may impair your ability to operate at a new location or expose the institution to significant liabilities. Be sure to consider the following and utilize counsel well versed in college and university property acquisitions and applicable regulations to examine any problems you may encounter:
What is the zoning of the property? Is there a zoning report that can be reviewed (if not, consider ordering one)? Does the property have the number of parking spaces required by law or local ordinances?
Are there any CC&Rs (covenants, conditions and restrictions) recorded against the property? Get and review copies to make sure they don’t prohibit any intended uses.
Is there a conditional use permit (CUP) or planned development permit affecting the property? If so, review this for any use restrictions.
What is the current condition of the property and the physical plant? Check for current building permits, and consider getting a professional inspection report on the building’s systems.
Does the current owner have a title policy covering the property? Important information about the location and its history can be gained from this document.
Does the owner have a Phase 1 environmental assessment regarding any hazardous materials at the location? Request and review this for possible issues, and keep it as a baseline in case of future problems.
Are there any litigation or condemnation actions that have been filed relating to the property? These can be red flags for any future owner or occupant.
Is the property in a designated flood zone, near an earthquake fault line, or otherwise located in an area exposed to natural disasters? Natural hazard disclosure reports can be obtained without much expense.
Was the property previously used by an institution participating in U.S. Department of Education Title IV federal student aid programs and did that institution close with unpaid liabilities owed to the Department? If so, moving into that space by lease or purchase could expose your institution to assumption of the unpaid liabilities of the previous owner.
Do you know your state, accreditor and Department of Education reporting obligations? These agencies must generally be notified of any change of location or any new space where more than 50% of an eduational program will be offered, or the institution risks liability for all Title IV funds disbursed to students at the new location and potentially other regulatory sanctions.
Most of these questions can be answered with the help of a forthcoming landlord when negotiating a new lease and with the assistance of experienced counsel. If the property is being purchased, the seller is likely required by law to make certain representations and warranties and to disclose property-related information and materials during the buyer’s due diligence period.
So don’t be surprised – get the information you need before you commit to a new campus or instructional location.
On July 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Education published a final rule rescinding the Department’s gainful employment (GE) regulations (2014 Rule) in the Federal Register. Institutions were given the option to early implement the rescission of the GE rule. Institutions that did not early implement the rule are still required to comply with the 2014 rule until the rescission becomes effective on July 1, 2020, and are expected to report GE data for the 2018–19 Award Year to National Student Loan Data System (NSLDS) by October 1, 2019. Compliance with the GE rule would be monitored via annual Title IV compliance audits and Title IV program reviews.
The Jeanne Clery Disclosure of Campus Security Policy and Campus Crime Statistics Act, or Clery Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1092(f) (34 C.F.R. § 668.46), requires all schools, colleges and universities that participate in federal student financial aid programs to:
Maintain and disclose to the public statistics, policies and programs about certain crimes occurring on and/or near a campus; and
Have in place and be able to demonstrate implementation of specific campus safety policies, including those related to crimes of sexual violence.
Educational institutions must provide and distribute this information in a Clery Act Annual Security Report (ASR) by October 1, 2019. The U.S. Department of Education guidance specifies that this is a firm deadline; there is no grace period and no exemptions exist.
The California Consumer Privacy Act of 2018 Webinar Series will be hosting its third installment, “How the CCPA Impacts the Higher Education Industry,” to be held on September 5, 2019. The webinar will be presented by Duane Morris attorneys Brandi A. Taylor and Michelle Hon Donovan.
This session provides an overview of the new law and how it applies to schools and companies in the education sector. Nonprofit educational institutions are exempt from the new law. However, it will apply to any for-profit education institutions, service providers and technology companies that collect any information on California residents and meet any of the following criteria:
Have an annual gross revenue of $25 million or more;
Collect, sell or share for commercial purposes the personal information of at least 50,000 consumers, households or devices annually; or
Derive at least 50 percent of annual revenue from selling consumers’ personal information.