Washington Post's Kaplan, For-Profit Schools Are Focus of Florida Probe

The Washington Post Co.’s Kaplan unit and four other for-profit colleges are being investigated by Florida’s attorney general for possible misrepresentations about financial aid, recruitment and accreditation.

The civil investigation was initiated after consumer complaints and the U.S. Government Accountability Office issued a report for a U.S. Senate hearing in August about for-profit colleges, Ryan Wiggins, a spokeswoman for Florida Attorney General Bill McCollum, said yesterday in a phone interview.

“We have received a number of complaints,” Wiggins said. “The combination of the complaints and the report that came out” prompted the attorney general’s lawyers to begin an investigation, she said.

Michele Pore, a spokeswoman for Kaplan, said yesterday in an e-mail that the company wasn’t aware of an investigation and hadn’t been contacted by the attorney general’s office.

The other schools under investigation include Education Management Corp.’s Argosy Education Group Inc., Education Affiliates Inc.’s MedVance Institute, Apollo Group Inc.’s University of Phoenix and Corinthian Colleges Inc.’s Everest College, according to Wiggins.

Wiggins declined to say if the probe might widen to include more schools. “We’re just in the investigation process right now,” she said.

Apollo Group hasn’t been notified by the Florida attorney general’s office of an investigation, the company said yesterday in a statement.

“We support efforts to enhance accountability within higher education and we strive to play a leadership role in continuously improving and transparently reporting the outcomes and achievements of students served by our schools,” Apollo Group said in the statement.

Representatives for Education Management, Education Affiliates and Corinthian Colleges didn’t immediately return calls seeking comment after regular business hours yesterday.

The Wall Street Journal reported earlier on Florida’s investigation.

To contact the reporter on this story: Joel Rosenblatt in San Francisco at jrosenblatt@bloomberg.net; Edvard Pettersson in Los Angeles at epettersson@bloomberg.net.

To contact the editor responsible for this story: David E. Rovella at drovella@bloomberg.net.

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