U.S. Education Department Accepts Selection of New Independent Monitor for Zenith Education Group

Archived Information

U.S. Education Department Accepts Selection of New Independent Monitor for Zenith Education Group

May 27, 2016

The Department of Education announced today it has accepted law firm Squire Patton Boggs as the new independent monitor for Zenith Education Group, a non-profit group that operates former Corinthian College campuses. Law firm partner Clark Kent Ervin, the former inspector general for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the U.S. Department of State, will lead the independent oversight of Zenith.

"Clark has a distinguished record both in and outside government. We have great confidence that he will effectively monitor Zenith's work, provide transparency into Zenith's operations, protect students and properly safeguard taxpayer funds," said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.

In 2008, Ervin served as the co-chairman of then President-elect Barack Obama's Transition Team for DHS and was a member of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano's Homeland Security Advisory Council. Clark, an appointee of then House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, served as one of the eight members of the independent, bipartisan congressional Commission on Wartime Contracting in Iraq and Afghanistan from its inception in 2008 to its expiration in September 2011.

Ervin will begin oversight of Zenith's activities on June 1. Squire Patton Boggs replaces law firm Hogan Marren as Zenith's independent monitor.

Zenith Education Group, the nonprofit education arm of ECMC Group acquired more than 50 Everest and WyoTech campuses from Corinthian Colleges Inc. in 2015 and transitioned the campuses from for-profit to nonprofit institutions. As part of the sale, Zenith agreed to a series of operating standards established by the Education Department, including the hiring of an independent monitor. The Department published Hogan Marren's monitoring reports online. The monitoring reports from Squire Patton Boggs will also be published online.

The agreement requires that Ervin's findings be reported to the Department with full independence from Zenith, and makes clear that he is not serving as an attorney to Zenith. To enhance his independence, the agreement requires that Ervin do no work for Zenith for two years after the monitoring agreement concludes. The Department will have access to any documents and materials obtained or generated by Ervin.

The sale to Zenith allowed nearly 30,000 students to pursue their career goals without disruption when Corinthian shut down last year. Corinthian closed after an investigation by the Department's Office of Federal Student Aid placed Corinthian on an increased level of financial oversight because the company failed to respond to the Department's repeated requests for answers about questionable practices. Following further investigation, the Department ordered the for-profit company to sell and prepare to wind down all of its programs. The Department also required Zenith to improve the quality of its career training and counseling, increase affordability by reducing tuition and providing grant aid, and elevate its focus on student outcomes. Since the transition to nonprofit status, the school has reduced tuition by 20 percent, revamped the financial aid award process and eliminated 87 programs.

The Department will continue to be vigilant in its oversight of Zenith to ensure it is honoring its commitments to students.