Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education Releases Sunset Review Report


By Mikaila C. Hernández

On December 1, 2019, the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) published its Sunset Review Report in preparation for its Sunset Review Oversight hearing before the Assembly Business and Professions Committee and the Senate Business, Professions and Economic Development Committee The Bureaus’ enabling act, section 94800, et seq. of the Education Code, is scheduled to “sunset” (be repealed) on January 1, 2021 pursuant to section 94950 of the Education Code if not extended as part of the sunset review process, which is currently underway. This process provides an opportunity for the Department of Consumer Affairs (DCA), the legislature, the bureaus, and interested parties to discuss BPPE’s performance, and make recommendations for improvements, and  BPPE must justify its existence and effectiveness as a regulatory body under DCA for the sunset date to be extended another four years.

The report includes performance measures on licensing and enforcement programs, responses to issues raised by the legislature during the Bureau’s last sunset review in 2016, and raises 16 new issues that the Bureau seeks to discuss with the legislature as part of the sunset review process.

Of note, BPPE seeks a legislative change to section 94937 of the Education Code, which currently requires actual student harm before the Bureau can take disciplinary action for an institution’s violation of the law. (Issue #1) Citing the legislative intent set forth in section 94801(d)(6), which is to ensure prevention of student and public harm as a result of fraudulent or substandard educational programs, the Bureau recommends amending section 94937 to authorize BPPE to take disciplinary action if there is potential harm to students.

Additionally, BPPE seeks a statutory amendment to require institutions applying for an Approval to Operate with the Bureau to post a surety bond as part of the application process. (Issue # 4) According to the Bureau, this practice would bring it in line with eleven other states[1] requiring the same, and with other DCA entities[2] which have the authority to require a bond as part of the licensing process. When a school precipitously closes, the high extrinsic costs and unique student needs can be provided for by the surety bond. BPPE reports that sudden closure causes significant economic harm to students who have invested time and money for an incomplete program of study. The Student Tuition Recovery Fund (STRF) helps mitigate some of these losses after the school closes but it is statutorily prohibited from funding the storage, maintenance, and availability of student records, faculty compensation to complete instruction through the end of a term, or keeping temporary school staff to assist students in transferring to other institutions—all of which may be in the best interest of the students. The Bureau reported that it also incurs unforeseen travel and lodging costs for personnel to assist students across the state when the larger institutions close and can cause personnel to be pulled from their normal duties, resulting in temporary backlogs.

For a complete list of new issues the Bureau is raising, see section 11 of the Report.

BPPE’s Chief Officer will work with DCA and the Governor’s Office on the substantive language of BPPE’s Sunset Bill addressing the numerous issues after the Sunset Review hearing. At this writing, the hearing has not yet been set.

[1] Arizona, Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Maryland, Nebraska, New Mexico, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah.

[2] The Board of Pharmacy, Contractors State Licensing Board, Bureau of Cannabis Control, Cemetery and Funeral Bureau.


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