In the Matter of BETH JACOB HEBREW TEACHERS COLLEGE
Docket No. 94-10-EA
Student Financial Assistance Proceeding
On January 13, 1994, the Office of Student Financial
Assistance Programs (SFAP) of the U.S. Department of
Education (ED) imposed an emergency action against the Beth
Jacob Hebrew Teachers College (Beth Jacob) of Brooklyn, New
York, in accordance with 20 U.S.C. § 1094(c)(1)(G) and 34
C.F.R. §§ 600.41 and 668.83. In response to the notice, on
January 14, 1994, counsel for Beth Jacob requested an
opportunity to show cause why the emergency action is
Pursuant to the Delegation of Authority from the Secretary to
me to conduct proceedings and issue final decisions in
circumstances where educational institutions request an
opportunity to show cause why an emergency action is
unwarranted, I conducted a hearing in Washington, D.C., on
February 9-10 and 14, 1994. At the hearing, held in
conjunction with hearings regarding emergency action
proceedings against Sara Schenirer Teachers Seminary and the
Academy for Jewish Education, Beth Jacob was represented by
Yolanda Gallegos, Esq., of Dow, Lohnes & Albertson,
Washington, D.C., while SFAP was represented by Howard
Sorensen, Esq., from the ED Office of the General Counsel.
The proceeding was transcribed by a Court Reporter.
According to the ED notice, the emergency action was based
upon Beth Jacob's failure to satisfy either the definition of
an institution of higher education, as set forth at 20 U.S.C.
§ 1141(a) and 34 C.F.R. § 600.4(a), or the definition of a
postsecondary vocational school, as set forth at 20 U.S.C. § 1088(c) and 34 C.F.R. § 600.6. Satisfaction of one of these definitions is a prerequisite to participation in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, 20 U.S.C. § 1070 et seq. (HEA). To satisfy either of these definitions, an institution must be, among other things, accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting association or agency or must have been granted preaccreditation status. See 20 U.S.C. § 1141(a), 20 U.S.C. § 1085(a), and 20 U.S.C. § 1088(c). Noting that Beth Jacob, while accredited by the Accrediting Commission for Continuing Education and Training (ACCET), maintained only what ACCET termed "avocational" accreditation, ED concluded that such accreditation failed to satisfy the HEA accreditation requirement because it had no nexus with the offering of any HEA-eligible programs, i.e., a program with an occupational objective. ED further argued that Beth Jacob did not offer an eligible program under the provisions of 20 U.S.C. § 1088(c).
Beth Jacob has two programs which offer subcertifications
within them. First, there is a religious studies program
which trains teachers for Jewish schools. This program is
divided into a two year, 66 credit, teachers program, and an
advanced three and four year certificate program. Second,
there is a Jewish culture program aimed toward assimilating
new immigrants into the Orthodox Jewish community.
From the evidence presented, I find that the Jewish culture
program is not an eligible program for HEA purposes. For
further discussion on the applicable law regarding such
programs, see my Decision in In the Matter of Academy for
Jewish Education, Docket No. 94-11-EA, U.S. Dep't of
Education (March 23, 1994).
At the hearing, the parties stipulated that Beth Jacob
offers teacher training programs, that students who have
graduated from the programs have become teachers, and that
the opinion of witnesses would be that the programs prepared
them to become teachers. As well, unrebutted testimony was
taken indicating that Beth Jacob's certificate is recognized
for licensure by Torah Umesorah, a national organization of
Orthodox Jewish schools, and that Beth Jacob has a good rate
of graduate hiring in the Jewish educational community.
Consistent with the parties' stipulation and the testimony
given, I find that Beth Jacob's teacher training programs are
designed to prepare a student for gainful employment in a
recognized field (teaching), and are, therefore, HEA-eligible
programs. For further discussion on the applicable law
regarding such a program, note In the Matter of Seminar
L'Moros Bais Yaakov, Docket No. 94-37-EA, U.S. Dept. of Education (March 21, 1994).
ED argues that Beth Jacob is not an eligible institution for
HEA program purposes because accreditation from ACCET is
labelled "avocational" for ACCET purposes. Discussion of the
validity of this form of accreditation, in light of the
finding that the programs are HEA eligible, is unnecessary.
I find that Beth Jacob is appropriately accredited. See In
the Matter of Seminar L'Moros Bais Yaakov, supra.
To be eligible to participate in any Title IV program, Beth
Jacob must meet the definition of either an institution of
higher education, as defined at 20 U.S.C. § 1141(a), or a
postsecondary vocational institution, as defined at 20 U.S.C.
§ 1088(c). Both definitions require that the applicable
program provide for training that prepares students for
gainful employment in a recognized occupation. I have found
that Beth Jacob met its burden in demonstrating that it has
programs offering such training. Moreover, I have found that
Beth Jacob's ACCET accreditation meets the mandates of the
HEA, consistent with the above.
Finally, I note that this case is distinguishable from the
above-cited cases. In order to qualify as an HEA eligible
institution, a school must offer an HEA eligible program.
Indeed, testimony given by the Director of the Institutional
Participation Division, SFAP, indicates that so long as an
institution offers one eligible program, even if a minute
percent of an institution's students are enrolled in that
program, the institution, itself, remains eligible. Beth
Jacob offers such a program; therefore, it is an eligible
institution. However, only those students enrolled within
that program are eligible to receive HEA assistance.
Here the evidence suggests that students other than those enrolled in the eligible program may have received HEA funds, however, as SFAP opted not to pursue this issue by emergency action, and since my jurisdiction is limited to such action, I leave this issue for a more appropriate forum.
The standard found at 34 C.F.R. § 668.83(c) states that an
emergency action must be upheld if: 1) there is reliable
information that Beth Jacob violated provisions of Title IV
of the HEA; 2) immediate action is necessary to prevent
misuse of Federal funds, and 3) the likelihood of financial
loss outweighs the importance of adherence to the procedures
for limitation, suspension, and termination actions. In
light of the emergency action notice issued and the evidence
presented, I find that Beth Jacob has met its burden and
established that the emergency action is not appropriate.
Therefore, I hereby DISAPPROVE and SET ASIDE the emergency
Judge Ernest C. Canellos
Designated Deciding Official
ISSUED: March 25, 1994