DeVry University Lawsuit Alleges Student Bribery, Violation of Federal Regulations
The business of education is just as cut-throat as any other. With college rankings to compete for and billions of dollars in student tuition spent every year at for-profit colleges and universities across the nation, more than a few institutions have come under fire after the Obama Administration announced stricter policies governing for-profit colleges in 2011. Now, a lawsuit filed earlier this month in San Diego, Calif. alleges that DeVry University Inc. bribed students and consistently found ways to undermine and work around federal laws.
Karinna Topete, who was a manager at the California branch of DeVry from 2007 to 2012, claimed in her lawsuit that she frequently saw staff members and administration officials act against the company’s own internal policies in addition to frequently stepping outside the bounds of both state and federal law. Additionally, Topete claims that she was the victim of sexual harassment.
The lawsuit details allegations about admissions counselors receiving bonuses for exceeding their quotas for enrollment, and that other officials would use gift cards and other “bribes” to elicit positive performance reviews from students. Topete also claims that DeVry officials eluded federal regulations on deceptive recruitment tactics by sending admissions officers to transfer fairs at community colleges and pressure students to attend DeVry, while also ordering Topete to not provide “informational materials or referrals to persons of Iraqi national origin or Middle-Eastern appearance.”
As for her claims of sexual harassment, Topete stats that her former supervisor, James Rodisch, constantly attempted to flirt with her and making suggestive comments, as well as once telling her to attend an event due to DeVry’s booth needing a “hot bodied chick.”
According to Topete, her recent termiantion from her job at DeVry occurred as a retaliation for reporting these alleged acts of misconduct, and is seeking restitution for lost wages, medical expenses incurred from mental and emotional distress.
DeVry has previously come under scrutiny as the Obama Administration and the Department of Education crack down on for-profit schools that receive federal student aide. The college, which receives $1.3 billion in taxpayer-funded student aid, was listed by Sen. Tom Harkin (D-Iowa) as one company that had “very serious shortcomings in the past.”