Desantis Sues The Education Department For The Certification Process For Higher Education

Desantis Sues The Education Department For The Certification Process For Higher Education | Future Education Magazine


The Education Department accrediting process for colleges and universities is being challenged in court by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis (R), who claims it is unfair to his state’s educational institutions. Florida asserts that the department is unfairly impeding the state’s schools’ ability to comply with a recent state statute that mandates institutions to transfer their accreditor every few years. The state claims the Biden administration is illegally meddling with the law.

To receive federal funding, universities must go through an accreditation procedure. Although accreditation organisations are private, the government examines these businesses to determine whether they are adhering to the necessary standards to maintain their status as funding arbitrators. DeSantis claims that the education department released three “guidance documents” after Florida passed a legislation requiring colleges to transfer accreditors periodically, making it nearly impossible for institutions to comply with the state’s order.

The governor, who is also a candidate for president in 2024, said in a statement, “I will not allow Joe Biden’s The Education Department to defund America’s #1 higher education system all because we refuse to submit to unaccountable accreditors who think they should run Florida’s public universities.”

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACS), the accreditor who works with all Florida schools, is accused of abusing its authority in the complaint made by the state of Florida. The lawsuit’s most recent incident was in 2021, when SACS warned Florida State University it would lose federal funding because it was considering making the state of Florida’s commissioner of education its president.

The lawsuit claims that in response to The Education Department activities and outrage about SACS’s abuses, the Florida Legislature approved SB 7044 in 2022, requiring public colleges and universities to switch accreditors.

In response, the agency informed the accreditors in documents that educational institutions needed “reasonable cause” to change accreditation bodies. In another document, it was stated that the agencies must keep in mind the voluntary character of the partnership between private businesses and educational institutions and should look into the request for a switch if they believe it would go against the wishes of a university.

The lawsuit claims that the final document revised instructions stating that colleges must obtain departmental clearance before starting the procedure to switch accreditors. While some Florida universities have formally asked the education department for permission to switch accreditors, the lawsuit claims that in response the administration has stated that they need to know if the school is only making the switch due to Florida’s new law in order to determine if they have a “reasonable cause” to do so.

DeSantis Sues The Education Department

Currently, Florida’s public colleges and universities are required by state law to switch accreditors within the next two years. Federal laws that violate the Constitution and federal practises that violate the APA significantly restrict, if not completely prohibit, their capacity to do so, according to the lawsuit.

According to the case, the federal government is in violation of the Appointments Clause, the Spending Clause, the 10th Amendment, and the Private Nondelegation Doctrine. DeSantis declared that by filing this case, “we will ensure that Florida’s pursuit of educational excellence will continue. The Biden administration’s attempts to block these reforms are an abuse of federal power.” A spokeswoman for the White House linked this legal dispute to other “culture war” topics DeSantis has prioritised, like book restrictions.

“If Republican elected officials had their way, curriculums would be filled with conspiracy theories rather than facts and library shelves would be stocked with firearms rather than books. These cultural conflicts worsen the situation rather than improving it for pupils. It won’t be permitted by this administration. We will oppose this most recent attempt by opponents to prevent all pupils from receiving a high-quality education because we are committed to ensuring that they do, the spokesperson said.

The lawsuit is the most recent step in DeSantis’s quest for education reform, which he has prioritised throughout both his time as governor of Florida and his presidential campaign. He has especially agitated the higher education sector by passing rules that make it more challenging for academics to keep their tenure, prohibiting initiatives for diversity, equity, and inclusion, and appointing conservatives to the board of a small liberal arts college.

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