HUFFINGTON POST: Misleading Assurances in the Corinthian-ECMC Deal
Career College Central Summary:
Student loan debt collection company ECMC has just begun its takeover of 56 campuses of the failed, predatory for-profit Corinthian Colleges. But already, assurances from both federal government officials and ECMC itself regarding protections for students in the deal appear to have been highly misleading. A brand-new Everest College enrollment agreement, seen by Republic Report, combined with other information, suggests that the deal is worse for students than has been promised.
A striking example is a provision of this new enrollment agreement document, which is presented under the header "Everest College, An affiliate of Zenith Education Group, Inc." Zenith is the new non-profit college subsidiary of ECMC, and the provision in question concerns students' rights when they have a dispute with the school. ECMC, in its agreement this month with the U.S. Department of Education, dropped its determined insistence that students be required to surrender their rights to take disputes to court and instead be required go to a private arbitrator. ECMC's change of course was presented to the public and media as an important concession to students and their advocates (including me), as well as some members of Congress, who had emphatically argued that such mandatory arbitration agreements harm students and are typical of predatory for-profit colleges like Corinthian but not used by legitimate non-profit schools, as Zenith aspired to be. While student advocates still objected to the deal's ban on class action lawsuits — which allow students to bring claims on behalf of all of those harmed in a similar way — they were pleased that at least students would be able to go to court.
But what no one told us is a critical point in the the new Everest/Zenith agreement: Students must agree to give up the right to a jury trial. The agreement reads, "By my signature, I acknowledge that I understand that both I and The School are irrevocably waiving rights to a trial by jury." An addendum reiterates, "IN THE EVENT THAT YOU ELECT TO BRING A CLAIM IN COURT, YOU AGREE TO WAIVE YOUR RIGHTS TO A JURY TRIAL AND THAT THE CLAIM SHALL BE SUBMITTED TO A JUDGE ONLY AND NOT TO A JURY." Prohibiting students from presenting their claims to a jury takes away a major aspect of their right to sue in the first place. Yet that was never publicly explained when ECMC and the Department of Education announced the deal.
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