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California private postsecondary schools chief steps down

The bureau that oversees private vocational schools in California is defending itself against accusations it takes too long to investigate claims of wrongdoing. The accusations come just as the chief of enforcement is stepping down.

The California Bureau For Private Postsecondary Education oversees more than a thousand medical colleges, cosmetology schools, trucking schools and other institutions. 

The agency’s gone through restructuring in the last five years to improve oversight. Meanwhile, the Bay Citizen reports that the bureau is sitting on 200 investigations for longer than state law allows.

Not so, according to bureau spokesman Russ Heimrich. He points to a Bay Area school ordered to close down after it was found operating without accreditation. 

"A large part of the 200 schools that we are investigating are rather like the Institute for Medical Education," said Heimrich, "where they have put the student consumer at some sort of risk, mainly losing their tuition. In other words, they’re ripping students off."

The bureau has taken similar action against private colleges in L.A. and Orange counties.

With their head of enforcement leaving, observers say the change in personnel could slow the pace of investigations.

Private postsecondary schools enroll about 400,000 students statewide.