2020 ASU GSV Summit Session Replays Available

Duane Morris was a sponsor of the 2020 ASU GSV summit. Several of our attorneys presented at this year’s virtual conference. Below are replays from select sessions.

Ed Tech Policy Session | September 29, 2020

Consumers of education services – students of all ages and the entities that serve them – are hungry for dramatic changes in the education landscape that will deliver increased access, equity, affordability, quality and workforce relevance. Ed Tech has begun to deliver on those needs in extraordinary ways, and the potential is untapped. However, innovation in the market has outpaced how existing regulations and policy govern education as a service. This session will: (1) review friction points our lawyers have observed between Ed Tech models and the current state, federal and accreditor regulatory regimes that apply to educational businesses and educational institutions (and how to spot, anticipate and plan for them), (2) report on recent changes in federal law and policy to promote and foster innovation (including the U.S. Department of Education’s new Distance Education and Innovation Final Rule and increased accreditor flexibilities) and (3) discuss threats and opportunities that may arise from the next Congress and Administration, and how Ed Tech stakeholders can help shape education policy.

Speakers

Schools Not Tools | September 30, 2020

EdTech providers increasingly are crossing over from a supporting role to education delivery. Join us to talk about what the regulatory and legal ramifications are to being a school.

Moderator: Tony Guida, Partner, Duane Morris LLP
Speaker: Michelle Donovan, Partner, Duane Morris LLP

Privacy, Data Protection and Intellectual Property Considerations for EdTech Startups | October 8, 2020

This interactive session will cover some of the common legal issues that emerging EdTech companies grapple with in the areas of IP ownership, privacy, and data protection.

Speaker: Michelle Donovan, Partner, Duane Morris LLP

 

Department’s New Final Rule Clarifies Title IX Exemption and Introduces Free Speech Requirements for Grant Recipients 

The Department of Education issued its final rule to implement Executive Order 13864 (Improving Free Inquiry, Transparency, and Accountability at Colleges and Universities). The final rule was announced on September 9, 2020 with an accompanying Fact Sheet, and was formally published on September 23, 2020.  It is scheduled to go into effect on November 23, 2020.

The final rule’s major changes are outlined below, and include a clarification for Title IX as well as new conditions imposed on public and private institutions receiving federal direct grants or subgrants from a state-administered formula program. Continue reading Department’s New Final Rule Clarifies Title IX Exemption and Introduces Free Speech Requirements for Grant Recipients 

COVID-Related College Tuition Refund Claims Dismissed

Since the global pandemic forced most college campuses to resort to online instruction in March 2020, college students across the country have filed more than 150 lawsuits against their schools seeking refunds of tuition and related fees.

This month, a federal judge in Boston made the first dispositive ruling in such a case against Northeastern University – tossing out most of the claims asserted by the students in a putative class-action matter.  Judge Richard G. Stearns of the District of Massachusetts found in Chong v Northeastern University, 20-10844-RGS, that the contract between the university and its students (the Financial Responsibility Agreement, “FRA”) did not specifically include a right to in-person instruction.  The Judge noted that the FRA ties the payment of tuition to the registration for courses, “not to the receipt of any particular method of course instruction.”

The Judge also dismissed the students’ claims seeking a refund of certain student fees, such as student activity fees, finding that they paid the fees to support certain campus facilities – not necessarily to gain access to them.  Thus, the Court gave no credence to the students’ claims that they should receive a refund of activity fees because the school prevented them from accessing those facilities due to the pandemic.

However, the Court did allow the students’ claims seeking a refund of campus recreation fees to go forward, finding that the students’ payment of those fees may have implicitly created a right to attend home athletic events and use the campus gym and fitness facilities, which ceased on March 12.

Judge Stearns’ ruling may be a sign of things to come for the many similar lawsuits currently pending against colleges and universities throughout the country.  However, as in this case or any breach of contract action, these rulings will likely turn on the specific language of the applicable contract between the institution and the student.

Department of Education releases new Clery Act Appendix; Rescinds 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting

On October 9, 2020, the Department of Education (the “Department”) posted an Electronic Announcement announcing the rescission of and replacement for the 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting. Through this announcement, the Department is rescinding the guidance in the 2016 Handbook and replacing it with a Clery Act Appendix to the Federal Student Aid (“FSA”) Handbook. The electronic announcement identifies and explains the significant changes between the 2016 edition and the new Clery-related Appendix. The Department anticipates that this rescission and publication of the new Appendix will help simplify Clery compliance.  Continue reading Department of Education releases new Clery Act Appendix; Rescinds 2016 Handbook for Campus Safety and Security Reporting

Proposed Student Visa Rules will Upend Decades of U.S. Policy and Practice

On September 25, Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the DHS agency with jurisdiction over F-1 foreign student visa holders, published new proposed regulations that would end the long time U.S. practice of issuing “Duration of Status”  to F-1 students. Instead, F-1 visa holders would be limited to 2 or 4 year visa terms depending upon their country of origin, and be required to reapply for F-1 Status through USCIS to obtain extensions, or to leave the United States and apply for an extension .  The proposed regulations were immediately criticized by the higher education community. The rules were called ill-conceived, misguided, unnecessary, and a burden to an industry that has already seen a steady decline in international student admissions. Continue reading Proposed Student Visa Rules will Upend Decades of U.S. Policy and Practice

COVID-19 Can Change Everything—If We Let It

According to Dave Clayton, senior vice president of consumer insights at Strada Education Network, hybrid education “was a consistently popular option” throughout a recent survey taken by his organization. It beat out both online and in-person when it came to which option Americans were likely to recommend, as well as which option offered the best preparation for joining the workforce.

Will this change higher education? Of course it will. The market to find students gets more competitive for colleges every year. That trend is predicted to continue long into the future. If today’s junior high schoolers already know that they want “both,” this shift in consumer demand won’t go unnoticed. If college leadership wants the freshman class of 2026 to enroll in their institution, they would be foolish not to adapt.

To read the full text of this article by Duane Morris partner Edward M. Cramp, please visit the University Business website.

Active Ransomware Campaign Targeting Education Institutions

By Michelle Hon Donovan

The Department of Education issued a security alert stating that multiple schools have reported that they have suffered ransomware attacks. Ransomware is a type of malware that uses encryption to block access to a computer system unless a ransom is paid. Ransomware is commonly embedded in email attachments that infect a computer when opened. However, the Department of Education states that phishing attacks have been the primary method used in these reported cases, where the attackers used phishing schemes to gain access to account credentials and then used those credentials to install the ransomware.

The Department of Education recommends that schools implement the following cybersecurity practices to protect against such attacks:

  • Establish a data backup process, ensure the backups are available and accessible, and store the backups offline
  • Implement multi-factor authentication to mitigate account compromises
  • Regularly patch hardware and software
  • Continuously monitor institutional network to detect unauthorized access and malware
  • Create and update your Incident Response Plan
  • Ensure training resources emphasize phishing, as it is frequently the compromising entry point for cyber attacks

The Department also reminds schools that ransomware attacks should be reported immediately to the FSA security team.

As New Title IX Rule Goes into Effect, Department Launches New Title IX Website

The new Title IX Rule is now in effect as of today (Aug. 14, 2020). As such, all K-12 and postsecondary academic institutions that receive Title IV funding are required to have Title IX policies and procedures in place and to be implementing them going forward.  As our readers will remember from our prior in-depth Client Alert, the new Rule governs employees and students, can include incidents on and off campus, requires institutions to adopt a formal process for investigating and resolving complaints (including a live hearing with cross-examination), and an appeals process.

Concurrent with the new Title IX Rule going into effect today, the Department of Education launched a Title IX website.  The website is a repository Continue reading As New Title IX Rule Goes into Effect, Department Launches New Title IX Website

Duane Morris Welcomes Senior Education Policy Advisor Nicholas Kent

Duane Morris is pleased to welcome  Nicholas Kent to the Chicago office  as Senior Education Policy Advisor.

Mr. Kent works with Duane Morris’ Education Policy Team on issues involving the highly regulated field of education. Mr. Kent advises in areas encompassing the federal student financial assistance programs administered by the U.S. Department of Education; regional, national and programmatic/specialized accreditation; state authorization; and related federal and state legislative, regulatory and policy matters. Mr. Kent also has experience in pre-K-12 education.

Mr. Kent’s leadership experience in both the private and public sectors informs his approach in supporting nonprofit, public and proprietary postsecondary institutions, higher education associations, accrediting agencies, education companies and schools. His previous roles include serving as Senior Vice President of Policy and Research for the Career Education Colleges and Universities and serving as Director of Policy, Planning and Research at the Office of the State Superintendent of Education, Washington, D.C.
Mr. Kent earned his bachelor’s degree in political science from West Virginia Wesleyan College and his master’s degree in higher education administration with a concentration in policy from The George Washington University. He is a current member of the Association for Education Finance and Policy and is a frequent writer and speaker on topics related to higher education policy and regulation.

Remote Study Ban on Foreign Students Rescinded after Unprecedented Pressure from University and Business Community

On July 14, 2020, the Trump Administration rescinded SEVP guidance issued last week, which forbid F-1 students from attending universities that were planning to be 100% remote during the fall 2020 semester.  With the rescission, schools may now revert to following  the SEVP March 9 Broadcast Message: Coronavirus Disease 2019 and the March 13  COVID-19: Guidance for SEVP Stakeholders . Continue reading Remote Study Ban on Foreign Students Rescinded after Unprecedented Pressure from University and Business Community