In the Matter of SARA SCHENIRER TEACHERS SEMINARY,
Docket No. 94-8-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 Sara
Schenirer Teachers Seminary (Schenirer) 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 Schenirer 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 Beth Jacob Hebrew Teachers College and
the Academy for Jewish Education, Schenirer 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 Schenirer'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 Schenirer, 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 Schenirer did not offer an eligible program under the
provisions of 20 U.S.C. § 1088(c).
Schenirer was founded in order to offer a "challenging
program of higher Jewish study that will prepare women to
serve as teachers, mothers, and fully realized individuals in
the Jewish community." Schenirer's 1991-1992 Catalog.
Schenirer asserts that its mission extends beyond that of a
traditional vocational school, but that it has not excluded
from this mission the occupational potential which its
programs offer. Schenirer offers both Jewish cultural
studies programs and teachers programs.
From the evidence presented, I find that the Jewish Cultural
Studies program is not an eligible program for HEA purposes.
For a further discussion of the applicable law regarding
programs of this type, 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).
There are two teachers programs at Schenirer: a one year/full
day program and a two year/half-day program. Both require
the completion of 64 credits. At the hearing, the parties
stipulated that Schenirer 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.
Consistent with the parties' stipulation, I find that the
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,
see my Decision in In the Matter of Seminar L'Moros Bais Yaakov, Docket No. 94-37-EA, U.S.
Dep't. of Education (March
ED argues that Schenirer 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 Schenirer is appropriately accredited consistent
with my findings in In the Matter of Seminar L'Moros Bais
To be eligible to participate in any Title IV program,
Schenirer 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 Schenirer met its burden in demonstrating that its
programs offered such training. Moreover, I have found that
Schenirer's ACCET accreditation meets the mandates of the
HEA, consistent with the above.
Finally, I must note where this case is distinguishable from
either of the above-cited cases. In order to be deemed an
eligible institution for HEA purposes, an institution must
offer an HEA eligible program. Schenirer offers such a
program and, therefore, the seminary is an eligible
institution. Indeed, testimony given by the Director of the
ED Institutional Participation Division, Office of Student
Financial Assistance Programs, indicates that so long as the
institution offers one eligible program, even if a minute
percentage of an institution's students are enrolled in that
eligible program, the institution, itself, remains eligible.
However, only those students enrolled within the eligible
program are eligible to received HEA-based assistance. Here
the evidence suggests that students other than those enrolled
in an eligible program may have received Title IV funds,
however, as SFAP opted to apparently not pursue this issue by
this emergency action, and since my jurisdiction is limited
to such action, I leave this issue for a more appropriate
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 Schenirer 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 Schenirer 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