House Education and Labor Committee Chairman Rep. Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (D-Va.) is threatening to subpoena Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to testify about the Education Department’s handling of debt relief claims from former Corinthian Colleges students.

In a letter sent Friday to DeVos, Scott told the secretary the Education Department’s offer to brief the committee in lieu of her public testimony was insufficient. The department previously informed Scott that DeVos would not appear because of ongoing litigation involving Corinthian students, a position the chairman says has no merit.

“I was disappointed that you rejected my invitation to voluntarily participate in lawful Congressional oversight, relying only on the fact that students are suing you over the very policies you are refusing to provide Congress information on,” Scott wrote. “If you choose to decline my invitation, the Committee will consider exercising its legal authority to compel your attendance.”

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DeVos has until Wednesday to accept the chairman’s invitation. The Education Department said it received and is reviewing Scott’s letter.

The federal agency has been locked in litigation with former students of the defunct for-profit chain for more than a year. The Corinthian students say they are due a full discharge of their federal loans under a 1995 law, known as “borrower defense to repayment,” that protects borrowers who are defrauded by their colleges. But the Trump administration is trying to grant partial relief.

The case resulted in DeVos being held in contempt Oct. 24 for violating a court order to stop collecting loan payments from the Corinthian students. A federal judge imposed a $100,000 fine on the Education Department, which must use the money to compensate the 16,000 people harmed by the agency’s actions.

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According to Friday’s letter, Scott has been seeking information about the Education Department’s processing of applications for student debt relief since March, with more than two dozen follow-up requests for information that went largely unanswered. Scott said DeVos’s testimony is critical to understanding her policies on debt relief for defrauded borrowers and the decision not to approve or deny a single application in more than a year.

The Education Department has argued that the Corinthian case is preventing it from taking action on the applications and that nothing can be done until the case is resolved.

“Only after the Ninth Circuit renders a final decision on the merits will there be both a path forward for the Department to take and a basis for oversight serving a legitimate legislative purpose,” Reed D. Rubinstein, principal general counsel at the Education Department, wrote Scott on Oct. 29.

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In Friday’s letter, Scott said Rubinstein’s argument was without merit, especially if the department is willing to brief the committee on information tied to the case.

This is the second time in less than two weeks that Scott has threatened to subpoena DeVos. The previous warning involves requests for information about the department’s alleged efforts to protect Dream Center Education Holdings, owner of the Art Institutes and Argosy University, after it lied about the accreditation of its since-closed schools.

A trove of documents released by the House Education Committee shows the Education Department provided $10.7 million in federal loans and grants to students at two for-profit colleges — the Illinois Institute of Art and Art Institute of Colorado — that it knew weren’t eligible for such aid.

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