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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.

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Kaplan was exposed by a local TV station for misleading students, for months, about accreditation status. The reporter even uncovered that Kaplan had never even applied for accreditation, despite being eligible to do so. Within days of the story's broadcast, Kaplan offered students a settlement and volunteered to surrender its license to operate the dental assisting program in North Carolina.

4) In August 2011, Kaplan College's Modesto, CA, campus was ordered by the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools (ABHES) to 'show cause' why continued accreditation of its Medical Assisting program should not be denied due to low placement rates. Kaplan College Modesto responded, and ABHES agreed to continue the current grant of accreditation through December 31, 2012, to allow the campus additional time to continue to show compliance with ABHES standards. Loss of ABHES accreditation for this program would have a material impact on the Modesto campus and Kaplan's bottom line.

Medical assisting program problems are not limited to Kaplan's Modesto campus. On December 18, 2011, Kaplan student Michelle Flanagan, from Chicago, posted the following message on Kaplan University's Facebook page:

"I attend Kaplan University as well. My major is medical assisting. The school is having a hard time finding me a clinical site. Therefore, I will have to take next semester off until I am placed at a site.

5) On or about January 17, 2008, an Assistant U.S. Attorney in the Civil Division of the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania contacted KHE's CHI-Broomall campus and made inquiries about the Surgical Technology program, including the program's eligibility for Title IV U.S. Federal financial aid, the program's student loan defaults, licensing and accreditation. Kaplan responded to the information requests and fully cooperated with the inquiry. The DOE also conducted a Program Review at the CHI-Broomall campus, and Kaplan likewise cooperated with the Program Review. On July 22, 2011, the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania announced that it had entered into a comprehensive settlement agreement with Kaplan that resolved the U.S. Attorney's inquiry, provided for the conclusion of the DoJ's program review and also settled a previously sealed U.S. Federal False Claims Act (False Claims Act) complaint (31 U.S.C. § 3729, et seq.) that had been filed by a former employee of the CHI-Broomall campus. [Once again, it must be noted that the terms of the settlement did not disclose Kaplan's abuses or the agreement's terms.]

In the CHI matter, Kaplan had been enrolling students in the surgical technology program knowing that there were not enough clinical externships available for students to complete the program and graduate. It took the Washington Post Company four years to agree to a $1.6 million settlement to pay back the affected students' loans, and the money the company paid back was money it received from the federal government to provide students with college educations. In essence, Kaplan pays the cost of settlement out of Title IV funds and student loans. In 2011, Kaplan renamed the CHI school in an attempt to erase the stain from this case.

Legal Proceedings

In addition to the aforementioned accreditation problems, the 2011 annual report disclosed that Kaplan has been subject to the following legal proceedings: two class-action lawsuits, five false-claims whistleblower lawsuits, an employment discrimination lawsuit by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a Senate inquiry, and subpoenas and investigative demands from the attorneys general of Illinois, Massachusetts, Delaware and Florida.

All of this litigation, coupled with the company's continued lobbying, settlements and activities designed to assure that Kaplan profits from education, has cost taxpayers and students hundreds of millions of dollars. It is time that the public begin asking if this for-profit college/university experiment should stop.