Insider Access at the Department of Education

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos's management of the department has raised serious questions about the level of influence that the charter school and for-profit college industries have had at the department.

BACKGROUND

American Oversight is investigating the influence that Secretary DeVos has allowed for-profit schools and other outside entities to have on the Education Department and its policies.

During her first year in office, Betsy DeVos proved that she was unqualified for the job as secretary and out of touch with everyday Americans — just as many thought when DeVos was first nominated. American Oversight obtained copies of her calendars, which revealed that she spent her first six months in office focusing on charter schools, religious schools, and other non-public educational institutions — and took frequent long weekends.

We’re investigating the influence that for-profit colleges and religious institutions, like Liberty University, have on Education’s policy priorities. In light of Education’s decision to roll back the Gainful Employment Rule, the Borrower Defense Rule, and Obama-era guidance on school discipline practices, American Oversight is seeking records to determine the extent to which outside special interests influenced these changes.

LITIGATION

On June 26, 2017, American Oversight sued the Department of Education for records of DeVos’ calendars as well as the calendar entries of other senior political appointees in the agency. 

On Aug. 1, 2018, American Oversight sued the Department of Education on behalf of the National Student Legal Defense Network for specific records produced by the Department of Education sent to Navient, a giant federal student loan servicer. 

On Nov. 9, 2018, American Oversight sued the Department of Education for records, including memos and communications, concerning the agency’s decision to cut back on debt relief for defrauded student borrowers. 

On May 22, 2019, American Oversight sued the Department of Education on behalf of the National Student Legal Defense Network for records relating to the agency’s oversight of institutions owned by the Dream Center Foundation and Dream Center Educational Holdings, LLC. 

On Aug. 28, 2019, American Oversight sued the Department of Education for communications sent using DeVos’ personal email account that concerned official agency business. 

On Oct. 10, 2019, American Oversight sued the Department of Education for communications former General Counsel Steven J. Menashi had with White House Senior Adviser Stephen Miller, specific right-wing groups, and other key White House officials regarding the issue of immigration and undocumented students. The suit also sought Menashi’s ethics pledge and conflicts of interest. 

Updates

How the Education Department Tried to Help a For-Profit College Chain That Lied to Students

July 30, 2020
Recently released documents shed new light on a top official's efforts to aid the scandal-ridden company Dream Center Holdings.

News Roundup: The Subversion of Justice at the Justice Department

May 15, 2020
From investigations into the president’s perceived enemies to interference in the criminal cases of Trump allies like Flynn and Roger Stone, the ongoing politicization of the department is a dangerous threat to the rule of law.

Lawsuit Seeks Records Related to Repeal of Gainful Employment Rule That Protected Student Borrowers

May 14, 2020
American Oversight and nonprofit legal organization Student Defense sued the Department of Education on Wednesday for records related to the repeal of a rule protecting students from excessive debt. 
Show all updates

Related Documents

July 29, 2020

Education Documents Regarding Frank Luntz Slide Presentation

Department of Education
Agency Record
July 20, 2020

No Records Response from Education Regarding Communications with Jerry Falwell

Department of Education
Agency Reply
June 4, 2020

Education Records of Communications with Sen. Lamar from April to October 2018

Department of Education
Agency Record
May 6, 2020

ED Correspondence Log Communications with the Heartland Institute

Department of Education
Agency Record
May 5, 2020

Education Records Regarding Meetings with Lobbyists from October 2017

Department of Education
Agency Record
May 5, 2020

FOIA to Education Requesting Communications with Online Education Companies

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 28, 2020

No Records Response from ED Regarding FSA Chief Communications with Select Student Loan Groups

Department of Education
Agency Reply
April 7, 2020

No Records Response from ED Regarding Communications with Former Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi

Department of Education
Agency Reply
March 11, 2020

ED Records of Steven Menashi’s Communications and Ethics Documents

Department of Education
Agency Record
February 26, 2020

No Records Response from ED Regarding Email Communications Concerning Reed and Margaret Cordish

Department of Education
Agency Reply
January 3, 2020

FOIA to ED Seeking Communications with Select Associates of Career Education Colleges and Universities, Including Pete Hegseth

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 19, 2019

ED Records Regarding Mitchell Zais Communications With Outside Individuals and Entities

Department of Education
Agency Record
December 18, 2019

Department of Education Political Appointee Calendars

Department of Education
Agency Record
December 4, 2019

ED Communications of with Representatives of Select Student Loan Groups

Department of Education
Agency Record
November 25, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University

Department of Education
FOIA Request
November 25, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with the White House Regarding Jerry Falwell Jr. and Liberty University

Department of Education
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Peter Thiel and Blake Masters

Department of Education
FOIA Request
November 20, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Erik Prince

Department of Education
FOIA Request
October 23, 2019

Calendar Entries for Betsy DeVos and Senior ED Officials

Department of Education
Agency Record
October 18, 2019

ED Records Regarding Secretary DeVos’ Personal Emails About Agency Business

Agency Record
October 10, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. Education – Steven Menashi’s Communications and Ethics Documents

Department of Education
Litigation
September 10, 2019

FOIA to Education for Steven Menashi’s Ethics Records

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 10, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Steven Menashi’s Communications Regarding Undocumented Students

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 10, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Steven Menashi’s Communications with Stephen Miller and Other White House Officials

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 10, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Steven Menashi’s Communications with Outside Groups

Department of Education
FOIA Request
August 28, 2019

Complaint: American Oversight v. ED – DeVos Personal Email

Department of Education
Litigation
August 23, 2019

FOIA to Education for Communications with Reed and Maggie Cordish

Department of Education
FOIA Request
July 16, 2019

ED Records Regarding Stays at the Amway Grand and Grand Hotel

Department of Education
Agency Record
June 17, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Records Related to Changes to Protection Disclosure Requirements to Benefit Navient

Department of Education
FOIA Request
May 22, 2019

Complaint: NSLDN v. Education – Dream Center Oversight

Department of Education
Litigation
May 21, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications of Diane Auer Jones and Education Industry Entities

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 16, 2019

Education Department Communications Regarding the Teacher Strikes and Protests of 2018 


Department of Education
Agency Record
April 9, 2019

ED Communications about the Agency’s Navient Audit Report

Department of Education
Agency Record
March 28, 2019

FOIA to ED Seeking Records Regarding Relationship with Navient

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 28, 2019

FOIA to ED Seeking Records Regarding Response to Senator Warren’s Criticism of Navient

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 28, 2019

FOIA to ED Office of the Inspector General Seeking Navient Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 19, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications Regarding Credit Hour Definition

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 19, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Men’s Rights Activists

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 1, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Club for Growth

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 1, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Records of Fireside Chat at Club for Growth Foundation

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 14, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Mick Zais Campaign Donors

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 14, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Newberry College

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 14, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Individuals or Entities from South Carolina

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 14, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Records Regarding Education Department Reorganization

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 11, 2019

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Education Corporation of America

Department of Education
FOIA Request
February 11, 2019

FOIA to Education Internal Comms About Education Corporation of America

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 21, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Records Related to Borrower Defense Cases

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Schmoke Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Regarding the Report “Federal Student Aid’s Borrower Defense to Repayment Loan Discharge Process”

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications Regarding the Social Security Administration

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Records Related to the Borrower Defense Unit

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Records Related to Borrower Defense Claims

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Borrower Defense Review Panel Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with Outside Groups Regarding the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Congressional Communications Regarding Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
December 20, 2018

FOIA to Education Regarding Borrower Defense Loan Repayment

Department of Education
FOIA Request
November 16, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with the Heartland Institute

Department of Education
FOIA Request
November 13, 2018

No Records Response from ED Offices regarding Borrower Defense

Department of Education
Agency Reply
November 9, 2018

Complaint: American Oversight v. Education – Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
Litigation
November 2, 2018

No Records Response from Selected ED Offices Regarding Meetings and Communications about the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
Agency Reply
August 30, 2018

No Records Response From Education Regarding Online College Rules

Department of Education
Agency Reply
August 1, 2018

Complaint: NSLDN v. Education – Navient Student Loan Provider

Department of Education
Litigation
July 26, 2018

No Records Response From Education Office of the Secretary Regarding Teacher Strikes

Department of Education
Agency Reply
July 5, 2018

Education Department Communications With Michael Cohen and Barry Bennett

Department of Education
Agency Record
April 30, 2018

FOIA to Education Regarding Education’s School Discipline Priorities

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 30, 2018

FOIA Regarding the Influence of Large Online Colleges on Education’s Policy Priorities

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 30, 2018

FOIA to Education Regarding Liberty University’s Influence

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 30, 2018

FOIA to Education Regarding Senator Alexander and the HELP Committee

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications Regarding Education’s Rulemaking Subcommittee

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA Seeking Communications Related to the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to ED Seeking Communications with Outside Groups Related to the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications and Calendar Entries Related to the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to ED Seeking Communications Regarding the Borrower Defense Rule with the Executive Office of the President

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Decision Memos Regarding the Borrower Defense Rule

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications Regarding Teacher Strikes

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Communications with the State Policy Network

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 27, 2018

FOIA to Education Seeking Education’s Position on Teacher Strikes

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 19, 2018

FOIA to ED Seeking Communications Regarding Student Loans

Department of Education
FOIA Request
March 23, 2018

ED Communications With Sen. Alexander

Agency Record
March 6, 2018

Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Senior Staff Calendars from January – July 2017

Department of Education
Agency Record
March 5, 2018

Department of Education Emails Regarding Eitel and Hansen Recusals

Department of Education
Agency Record
February 13, 2018

FOIA Seeking Additional Production of DeVos/ Education Calendars

Department of Education
FOIA Request
October 27, 2017

FOIA to ED for FSA Chief Operating Officer Communications with Representatives of Select Student Loan Groups

Department of Education
FOIA Request
October 27, 2017

Motion for Extension and Opposition to Motion American Oversight v. Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
October 27, 2017

Joint Status Report: American Oversight v. Ed — Department of Education Leadership Calendars and Communications

Department of Education
Litigation
October 23, 2017

No Records Response From Education Regarding Gainful Employment – Congressional Communications

Department of Education
Agency Reply
October 20, 2017

FOIA to Education Department for DeVos Calendars

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 18, 2017

FOIA to Education Regarding Gainful Employment – Industry Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 18, 2017

FOIA to Education Regarding Gainful Employment – Congressional Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 18, 2017

FOIA to Education Regarding Gainful Employment – White House Communications

Department of Education
FOIA Request
September 15, 2017

Opposition to Motion for Extension: American Oversight vs. Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
September 15, 2017

Motion for Extension: Department of Education

Department of Education
Litigation
August 23, 2017

No Responsive Records from Department of Education Regarding DeVos Reimbursements for Hotel Stays

Department of Education
Agency Reply
July 24, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Seeking Reimbursements for Hotel Stays at DeVos Properties

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 26, 2017

Complaint: American Oversight v. Department of Education – DeVos Calendars

Department of Education
Litigation
June 21, 2017

FOIA Request to Department of Education Communications Between Senior Officials and Falwell, Jr.

Department of Education
FOIA Request
June 21, 2017

FOIA Request to Department of Education Communications Between Senior Officials and Lamar Alexander

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 11, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Seeking Information about Taylor Hansen or Robert Eitel

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 11, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Seeking Calendars and Call Logs for Secretary DeVos

Department of Education
FOIA Request
April 10, 2017

FOIA Request to Education Seeking Policies or Guidance Regarding the Provision of Information

Department of Education
FOIA Request