Durbin Calls For Resignation Of Principal Deputy Under Secretary Of Education Diane Auer Jones

WASHINGTON— Following the release of a report from the House Education and Labor Committee on its investigation into the Department of Education’s handling of Dream Center Education Holding’s (DCEH) accreditation misrepresentation at its Illinois Institute of Art and Colorado Art Institute campuses, U.S. Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) today released the following statement calling for the resignation of Principal Deputy Under Secretary of Education Diane Auer Jones:

“Under Secretary Jones, a former for-profit college industry official and lobbyist, went to extraordinary lengths to try to rescue this now-defunct company at the expense of students and taxpayers. As Jones worked behind the scenes to improperly pressure Dream Center’s accreditor and change Department policy to aid the company, the Department of Education sent millions in taxpayer dollars to Dream Center schools that were legally prohibited from receiving them. Jones’ and the Department’s responses to me and other Members of Congress about the extent of her involvement in Dream Center’s accreditation misrepresentation were false.  She must resign immediately.”

Durbin’s previous letters and Questions for the Record to Secretary DeVos factored significantly into the House Committee’s investigation and report.  Specifically, the report found:

  • “in response to Senator Durbin’s questions for the record to Congress, the Department claimed that Under Secretary Jones first learned of ‘any reference to CCC-Status [Change of Control Candidacy Status] being a non-accredited status’ on July 10, 2018.  The documents described above demonstrate that the Department’s claim is false.  In one example, Under Secretary Jones reached out to HLC on June 27, 2018, two weeks before July 10, putting forward her retroactive accreditation proposal.  The sole purpose of this proposal was to address Dream Center’s nonaccredited status”; 
  • “the Department further asserted to Senator Durbin that ‘the Department believed that the campuses were in an accredited status [as of a June 14 meeting with Dream Center officials] or the Department would not have allowed the institutions to participate in [federal financial aid] programs.’ Though it is unclear who ‘the Department’ refers to specifically, many documents demonstrate that various high-ranking Department officials knew Dream Center was unaccredited prior to June 14, including at least one official in attendance at the June 14 meeting.

In June 2018, Durbin urged the Higher Learning Commission to investigate reports that Dream Center was misrepresenting the accreditation status of its Illinois Institute of Art and Art Institute of Colorado campuses.  In August 2018, Durbin asked the Department to respond to troubling allegations that Jones had encouraged Dream Center to misrepresent its accreditations status.  And, later, Durbin and Representative Rosa DeLauro asked the Department Inspector General for an investigation into, among other things, the accreditation misrepresentation issue.