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Official With For-Profit Ties to Oversee Postsecondary Education

  • Diane Auer Jones given duties of postsecondary office’s head
  • Democrats previously raised conflict of interest concerns

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has delegated the role of assistant secretary of postsecondary education to Diane Auer Jones, whom Democrats have been wary of because of her ties to for-profit colleges and universities.

Jones formerly held the role in the administration of George W. Bush and has recently come under scrutiny from Democrats who worry her ties to for-profit institutions could lead to conflicts of interest.

The White House has yet to nominate an assistant secretary for postsecondary education, although department spokeswoman Elizabeth Hill said there was a candidate the department hopes to put forward soon.

The position has been vacant since the start of the Trump administration, but the role’s responsibilities were previously delegated to Frank Brogan, the nominee to head the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education. Brogan was confirmed June 25, and Jones was delegated the duties of the postsecondary office two days later, according to an announcement on the Education Department’s website.

Jones’s resume includes roles at Princeton University and the Urban Institute. She joined the department in February, according to her LinkedIn account. In April, she was appointed as the senior policy adviser for the assistant secretary for postsecondary education, another role that has been unfilled since the start of the Trump administration.

‘Appearances of Impropriety’

Following the move in April, 10 Senate Democrats wrote a letter to DeVos questioning if it was appropriate for Jones, who lobbied on behalf of for-profit schools accredited by Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools (ACICS), to have a role in deciding whether the accrediting agency should continue to be recognized by the department.

“Now that Ms. Jones has been named to several consequential positions, it is imperative that the public have a better understanding of how the Department plans to address the significant number of conflicts of interest and appearances of impropriety,” senators wrote in the April letter.

Of the 15 positions at the department requiring congressional approval, only three still lack a nominee, according to a tally kept by the Washington Post and the Partnership for Public Service.

To contact the reporter on this story: Emily Wilkins in Washington at ewilkins@bgov.com

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Paul Hendrie at phendrie@bgov.com; John R. Kirkland at jkirkland@bgov.com; Jonathan Nicholson at jnicholson@bgov.com

The post Official With For-Profit Ties to Oversee Postsecondary Education appeared first on Bloomberg Government.

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