The Trump administration has just tapped the former dean of the for-profit DeVry University, Julian Schmoke, Jr., to be the chief enforcement officer of the Education Department’s higher education fraud unit. There’s just one problem.
Last year, DeVry’s parent company, which has been renamed Adtalem Global Education, agreed to a $100 million settlement to put to rest Federal Trade Commission allegations that DeVry misled students about job and salary prospects. The corporation settled a similar matter with the Department of Education late last year.
Who better than a fox to guard the chickens in the higher education henhouse?
The unit, now under the guidance of Schmoke, is responsible for processing debt relief claims filed by student loan borrowers who claim they have been defrauded by their college. The last detailed breakdown of claims pending before the department was posted in March of 2016. At that time, Devry students had 78 “borrower defense to repayment” claims pending. Devos said she will honor those claims previously approved by President Obama, but Trump has stopped approving new borrower defense claims.
The unit in the Education Department has been without a head since the departure of Robert Kaye earlier this year. Kaye was a former top consumer protection attorney with the Federal Trade Commission.
So of course, his replacement would be a man more in keeping with the Trump administration’s view that there’s a sucker born every minute.
It should also be noted that the Student Aid Unit was set up by the Obama administration last year. At that time, the lawsuits involving DeVry were cited as part of the reason for the formation of the unit. Obviously, this is yet another attempt to erase Obama from the history books.
Politico obtained an internal email from the head of the Federal Student Aid Office, A. Wayne Johnson, heaping praise on Schmoke:
Julian possesses over 16 years of experience in higher education leadership with extensive knowledge in the development and implementation of strategies for achieving student success, higher education policy and evaluation of academic programs.
This is exactly the sort of thing one would expect from a government agency headed by Betsy DeVos, who is intent on privatizing the American education system and strangling our public schools. Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) sent a letter to DeVos urging her to appoint a person with “relevant experience in consumer protection or litigation, managing attorneys, and conducting investigations with the highest ethical standards.”
While it is evident that Schmoke does have experience with consumer protection litigation and managing attorneys, having been the target of the aforementioned investigations, his ethical standards leave much to be desired.