«April 14, 2015 Jack D. Massimino UPS Tracking # President/Chief Executive Officer 1ZA879640192788623 Corinthian Colleges, Inc. 6 Hutton Circle Drive, ...»
April 14, 2015
Jack D. Massimino UPS Tracking #
President/Chief Executive Officer 1ZA879640192788623
Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
6 Hutton Circle Drive, Suite 400
Santa Ana, CA 92707
RE: Notice of Intent to Fine Heald College, OPE-ID: 00723400
Dear Mr. Massimino:
This is to inform you that the United States Department of Education (Department) intends to
fine Heald College, San Francisco, California, $29,665,000 based upon the violations set forth in this letter. Heald College participates in the federal student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (HEA), as amended, 20 U.S.C. §§ 1070 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. §§ 2751 et seq. (Title IV, HEA programs). The Department is taking this fine action pursuant to 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(1)(F) and 34 C.F.R. § 668.84.
This fine action is based upon the results of the Department’s analysis of documentation submitted by Heald College’s owner, Corinthian Colleges, Inc. (CCI), to the Department regarding Heald College’s placement rates, and upon the findings of a program review conducted by the San Francisco-Seattle School Participation Division at Heald College’s Stockton location and Heald College’s Salinas location. As discussed in detail below, the Department’s findings demonstrate that Heald College failed to meet the fiduciary standard of conduct by misrepresenting its placement rates to current and prospective students and to its accreditors, and by failing to comply with federal regulations requiring the complete and accurate disclosure of its placement rates. Therefore, as described below, I have determined that due to the serious violations committed by Heald College, a fine in the amount of $29,665,000 is warranted.
HEALD COLLEGE FAILED TO ADHERE TO A FIDUCIARY STANDARD OF
CONDUCTOn January 4, 2010, CCI purchased the Heald chain of schools (Heald), which then participated in the Title IV, HEA programs as individual entities with their own OPE–ID numbers.1 The Heald chain comprised Heald Concord (OPE-ID 02187500); Heald Fresno (OPE-ID 00809300);
Heald Hayward (OPE-ID 00853200), with additional location Heald Modesto (OPE-ID 00853202); Heald Milpitas (San Jose) (OPE-ID 02593200); Heald Rancho Cordova (OPE-ID 1 The OPE-ID is the institution’s Office of Postsecondary Education Identification Number. This is an eight-digit number assigned to an institution upon application to participate in Federal Student Aid programs. It is used throughout multiple systems to identify a school entity (the first six digits) and its individual locations (the last two digits).
Administrative Actions and Appeals Service Group 830 First St., N.E. Washington, D.C. 20002-8019 StudentAid.gov Jack D. Massimino Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
Page 200747700); Heald Roseville (OPE-ID 02593100); Heald Salinas (OPE-ID 03034000); Heald San Francisco (OPE-ID 00723400), with additional locations Heald Honolulu (OPE-ID 00723401) and Heald Portland (OPE-ID 00723402); and Heald Stockton (OPE-ID 02593300). Heald and the Department executed temporary Program Participation Agreements (PPAs) for each of the Heald schools, effective February 22, 2010, and upon the Department’s approval of CCI’s application for ownership, executed provisional PPAs for each of these schools, effective May 4,
2010. On June 24, 2013, Heald and the Department executed Heald College’s current provisional PPA, which merged the participating Heald schools into one participating entity under OPE-ID 00723400. Hereinafter in this letter, “Heald College” and “Heald” are used interchangeably to refer to the Heald chain of schools before and after the Department’s approval of the merger.
By entering into a PPA with the Department, an institution and its officers accept the responsibility to act as fiduciaries in the administration of the Title IV programs. As fiduciaries, an institution and its officers are subject to the highest standard of care and diligence in administering the Title IV, HEA programs. 34 C.F.R. §§ 668.82(a) and (b). In order to meet its fiduciary responsibilities to the Department, an institution must comply with all Title IV statutory and regulatory requirements. 34 C.F.R. § 668.16(a). As described below, Heald College and its officers have failed to adhere to a fiduciary standard of conduct with regard to the calculation and disclosure of its job placement rates.
HEALD COLLEGE FAILED TO COMPLY WITH THE REGULATIONS GOVERNING
DISCLOSURE OF ITS JOB PLACEMENT RATESEffective July 1, 2010, institutions participating in the Title IV, HEA programs are required to make available to enrolled or prospective students, through appropriate publications, mailings, or electronic media, information concerning the placement of, and types of employment obtained by, graduates of the institution’s degree or certificate programs. 34 C.F.R. § 668.41(d)(5). The information can be gathered from the institution’s placement rate for any program, if it calculated such a rate, or other relevant sources. 34 C.F.R. § 668.41(d)(5)(i). The institution is required to identify the source of the information, as well as any timeframes and methodology associated with it. 34 C.F.R. § 668.41(d)(5)(ii). An institution is required to disclose any placement rate it calculates. 34 C.F.R. § 668.41(d)(5)(iii). An institution may satisfy the requirement to disclose the information required under 34 C.F.R. § 668.41(d) to enrolled students by posting the information on an internet website or an intranet website that is reasonably accessible to the individuals to whom the information must be disclosed; and to prospective students by posting the information on an internet website. 34 C.F.R. §§ 668.41(b)(1) and (2). Note that this regulatory provision applies to all types of institutions, not simply those which offer “gainful employment” programs.
All of Heald College’s programs are gainful employment programs subject to the provisions of 34 C.F.R. § 668.6(b). Beginning July 1, 2011, an institution that offers an educational program that prepares students for gainful employment in a recognized occupation, and that is required by its accrediting agency or State to calculate a placement rate on a program basis, must disclose the rate and identify the accrediting agency or State agency under whose requirements the rate was Jack D. Massimino Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
Page 3 calculated. 34 C.F.R. § 668.6(b). The institution must include the information required under 34 C.F.R. § 668.6(b)(1) in promotional materials it makes available to prospective students, post this information on its website, prominently provide the information in a simple and meaningful manner on the home page of its program website, and provide a prominent and direct link on any other Web page containing general, academic, or admissions information about the program to the single Web page that contains all the required information. 34 C.F.R. § 668.6(b)(2).
By entering into a PPA with the Department, an institution agrees, among other things, that:
In the case of an institution that advertises job placement rates as a means of attracting students to enroll in the institution, it will make available to prospective students, at or before the time that those students apply for enrollment…the most recent available data concerning employment statistics, graduation statistics, and any other information necessary to substantiate the truthfulness of the advertisements; and…relevant State licensing requirements of the State in which the institution is located for any job for which an educational program offered by the institution is designed to prepare those prospective students.
34 C.F.R. § 668.14(b)(10).
On January 23, 2014, the Department sent a letter to CCI in which the Department requested that CCI provide a copy of school performance disclosure documents for every CCI location, including Heald College institutions, for the calendar years 2010, 2011, 2012, and, when available, 2013. The Department also asked that CCI provide the evidence upon which CCI relied to derive each of the placement rates cited in the disclosures, including a list of all students either placed or omitted from the placement calculation due to any type of waiver, and the academic, employment, and/or waiver information specified by the Department. The Department provided CCI 30 days to submit the required documentation and information, and sent reminder letters to CCI on April 11, 2014, April 22, 2014, May 13, 2014, June 12, 2014, July 23, 2014, and August 25, 2014.
Eventually, in its responses to the Department’s requests, CCI assured the Department that CCI and its institutions “take pains to track and accurately report job placements.” Letter to Martina Fernandez-Rosario and Gayle Palumbo, p. 2 (Apr. 15, 2014). CCI stated that, because many of its institutions’ institutional and programmatic accreditors required annual reporting of placement outcomes in order to measure the school’s or program’s outcomes against a benchmark, CCI and its institutions had developed a robust process to confirm, and re-verify, the accuracy of the reported placement results. CCI represented that it went to great lengths in an effort to ensure that its internal and external reporting of placement statistics was accurate and reliable. Id. See also Letter to Robin Minor, p. 2 (February 11, 2014), Letter to Charles Engstrom (Feb. 1, 2013). Despite CCI’s representations, the Department has found that CCI and Heald College failed to fully and accurately disclose its placement rates and the methodology used to calculate them in its school performance disclosure documents.
Jack D. Massimino Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
1. Heald College’s placement rate disclosures omitted essential and material information concerning the methodology Heald used to calculate the rates.
In response to the Department’s requests for Heald College’s school performance disclosure documents and backup documentation, CCI provided, for each of its institutions, documents entitled “2010 Annual Placement Disclosure,” documents entitled “Program Disclosures,” carrying an effective date of July 1, 2011, and documents entitled “Program Disclosures,” carrying a publication date of July 1, 2012.
In the documents entitled “2010 Annual Placement Disclosure,” which had neither a publication date nor an effective date, each Heald institution disclosed that, because it was accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC-Jr), and WASC-Jr had no prescribed placement rate methodology, it was the institution that determined the formula used to calculate its placement statistics. These disclosures each stated that the placement rates reported therein were the placement statistics for the most recent complete calendar year, and that Heald outcomes are calculated by calendar year, tracking graduate cohorts from January 1-December 31. These disclosures also stated that employment is calculated by taking the total number of graduates placed in the field and dividing this number by the total number of graduates less the number of graduates deferred for employment because of continuing education, military, health, incarceration, moving outside of the U.S., non-citizenship, or death.
Heald College also provided for each institution documents entitled “Program Disclosure,” carrying an effective date of July 1, 2011, which affirmatively stated that the program disclosures contained therein were provided pursuant to federal regulations, effective July 1, 2011. These Program Disclosures also stated, in a footnote entitled “Institutional Accreditor,” that, because WASC-Jr. had no prescribed methodology for calculating placement outcomes, the methodology used was at Heald’s discretion. In each case, the Program Disclosure stated that placement rates were calculated as follows: “Heald College placement rate is calculated by taking the total graduates placed in the field, divided by the total number of graduates, minus graduates deferred for employment because of continuing education, military, health, incarceration, moving outside of the U.S., ineligibility to work in the U.S., or death. Time Frame: the cohort used are those graduates of a calendar year. Employment statuses are recorded up until June 30th of the following year.” These Program Disclosures also stated that “Placement Rate NA” meant that there was no data to disclose because the program was too new or the placement rate was not required to be calculated.
Heald College further provided for each institution Program Disclosures with a publication date of July 1, 2012, which similarly stated that the program disclosures contained therein were being provided pursuant to federal law. These Program Disclosures also represented, in a footnote entitled “Institutional Accreditor,” that because WASC-Jr. had no placement rate methodology, Heald College determined the placement rates. These Program Disclosures stated that Heald determined its placement rates by taking the total graduates placed in the field, divided by the total number of graduates, minus graduates deferred for employment because of continuing education, military, health, incarceration, moving outside of the U.S., ineligibility to work in the Jack D. Massimino Corinthian Colleges, Inc.
Page 5 U.S., or death; that the cohort used was the graduates of a calendar year; and that the employment statuses were recorded up until June 30th of the following year.
The Department has determined that in late 2013, Heald College switched to a web-based placement disclosure format. The web-based disclosures Heald College posted on its website contained the following language: “The job placement rate for students who completed this program in 2012-2013 is  %.” The placement rate disclosures also contained a link that stated “For further information about this job placement rate, click here.” The link led to the following