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What's Keeping WaPo So Quiet About Scandals at Kaplan University?

Once a cash-cow for The Washington Post Co., Kaplan U. is bleeding money as its credentials come under increased government scrutiny. Just don't expect to find that story in WaPo.

Photo Credit: Andrei Marincas |


 Kaplan University is the blood bank for the Washington Post and supplies the Washington Post Corporation with 58 percent of its revenue.

On February 29, 2012, The Washington Post Company released its 2011 10-K annual report. The report detailed accreditation problems at Kaplan College medical training programs all across the country. The annual report also revealed a dramatic decline in Kaplan's fortunes. Revenues at Kaplan Higher Education declined $500 million in 2011. Kaplan Inc.'s operating income declined from $347 million in 2010 to $89 million in 2011, and total enrollment declined from 97,000 to 75,000.

The fact that Kaplan Higher Education is failing to meet basic accreditation standards related to the training of medical personnel is a public health and safety concern. For example, at Kaplan's radiology program, it has been alleged that Kaplan failed to have a published pregnancy policy consistent with state and federal laws and make this policy known to female students.

The WaPo annual report established a disturbing pattern of accreditation problems which is not compatible with a legitimate academic institution. Kaplan and other for-profit colleges want to have access to federal education money, but time after time, their actions demonstrate that they are unwilling to behave like real academic institutions. Kaplan's answer to regulatory problems is to pay off politicians to weaken or rescind troublesome rules and regulations, thus reducing oversight, disclosure and transparency.

The Washington Post Company reported the following accreditation matters in the 2011 annual report to the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC):

1) On January 26, 2012, Kaplan University received a notice from the Florida Board of Nursing regarding the Associate's degree in nursing program at the Pembroke Pines facility. The letter required Kaplan University to appear at a hearing on February 1, 2012, to discuss the performance of program graduates on the national nursing certifying exam (NCLEX), which has fallen below the required standard. As a result of the hearing, the program was placed on probationary status until the exam pass-rate improves. Under the Florida Board of Nursing Rules, a failure to achieve the required NCLEX passage standard in either of the next two calendar years could result in the program losing its license to operate in Florida.

On Feb 28, 2012, following the Florida Board of Nursing hearing, Kaplan announced it would be closing the Pembroke Pines school. This was the campus which was caught engaging in deceptive recruiting practices in an undercover federal sting in 2010 and the same institution that was being investigated by the Florida District Attorney. Enrollment has dwindled to 53 students.

2) On December 21, 2011, Kaplan College's North Hollywood, CA campus received notification that the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT) withdrew the college's accreditation for its radiologic technologist program. This program had 163 students on December 31, 2011. Kaplan College has appealed this decision and accreditation for the school will be maintained during the pendency of the appeal. Loss of JRCERT accreditation for this program may have a material impact on Kaplan College's North Hollywood campus and would certainly affect Kaplan's bottom line.

Kaplan was only one of five radiology programs nationwide to ever have their certification involuntarily withdrawn in 2011. Yet despite being unable to meet basic accreditation standards, Kaplan has been charging $42,000 for their two-year radiology certificate, while nearby Los Angeles City College charges $2,000 for a two-year radiology associate's degree.

3) In November 2011, an internal investigation determined that certain students in the Dental Assistant program at Kaplan College's Charlotte, NC, campus had not received clear guidance regarding the program's accreditation and the employment prospects for graduates of the program. Because the Dental Assistant program is not programmatically accredited, students graduating from the program are considered by the regulatory agency in North Carolina to have "Dental Assistant I" status instead of a more advanced "Dental Assistant II" status. All students in the Charlotte Dental Assistant program were given full tuition refunds, and current students and graduates were offered stipends in exchange for signing settlement agreements. As of December 31, 2011, the vast majority of the affected students have signed settlement agreements. [These Kaplan-generated agreements have nondisclosure clauses that prevent the public from seeing the violations by Kaplan and the terms of the settlement agreement. We do know that the cost of settlement was $5 million.] The school ceased enrollment in the program and withdrew its license to operate the program in North Carolina. No other programs at this campus were affected.