UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION
             WASHINGTON, D.C. 20202


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In the Matter of                         Docket No. 97-11-ST

LA NEWTON SCHOOL OF BEAUTY            Student Financial
CULTURE,
                            Assistance Proceeding
                                
            Respondent.
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Appearances:


Before:


DECISION

    On January 2, 1997, the Office of Student Financial Assistance Programs (SFAP) of the U.S. Department of Education (Department) issued a notice of intent to terminate the eligibility of La Newton School of Beauty Culture (La Newton) to participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended (Title IV). 20 U.S.C. § 1070 et seq. and 42 U.S.C. § 2751 et seq. La Newton filed a request for review, and both parties submitted briefs.

    SFAP contends that La Newton is no longer eligible to participate in the Title IV programs because La Newton does not meet the requirement that it be accredited by a nationally recognized accrediting agency. In response, La Newton admits that its accreditation was revoked, but argues that its eligibility should not be terminated because it has not exhausted its remedies with its accrediting agency regarding its accreditation.

I

    The following facts do not appear to be in dispute and are supported by the exhibits submitted by both parties. La Newton was formerly accredited by the National Accrediting Commission of Cosmetology Arts and Sciences (Commission). On November 7, 1996, the Commission denied La Newton's appeal and withdrew La Newton's accreditation effective as of that date. The Commission notified the Department of La Newton's loss of accreditation on the same day. As a result, SFAP issued the notice of intent to terminate La Newton referenced above on January 2, 1997. On January 21, 1997, La Newton sent a letter to the Commission requesting that it review the evidence and reinstate La Newton's accreditation. By letter dated February 12, 1997, the Commission responded, stating that the school had two options: 1) to wait one year and then reapply for accreditation, or 2) to petition the Commission for a variance of the one year waiting period.

    La Newton concedes that accreditation is a requirement for participation in Title IV programs. §§ 600.5(a)(6), 600.2; 20 U.S.C. §§ 1088 and 1141.See footnote 11 La Newton further admits that the Commission denied the school's appeal for renewal of accreditation and removed the school from the Commission's list of accredited schools. Finally, La Newton acknowledges that the Commission is recognized by the Department as a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Nonetheless, La Newton argues that it has not exhausted all of its remedies with the Commission regarding its accreditation because it could petition for a variance and have its accreditation reinstated "in a very short time." This outcome, however, is merely speculative; even were I not bound by the regulations discussed infra, I could not rely upon such speculation for a finding that La Newton's eligibility should not be terminated. La Newton also argues that the Department would not be harmed or prejudiced if the Secretary did not terminate the school, and that the Secretary should exercise his discretion under § 600.41 not to terminate. La Newton's arguments as to whether the Secretary should exercise his discretion in termination decisions are irrelevant before this tribunal, because while the Secretary may have such discretion, the tribunal does not.

    Specifically, § 600.41(e)(1) states as follows:


    This language is very clear. This tribunal has no authority to consider challenges to the propriety of the decision by the Commission to deny La Newton's accreditation and to remove it from its list of accredited schools.

    Since La Newton admits that it is no longer accredited by the Commission and, thus, no longer meets applicable requirements with regard to accreditation, I find that, pursuant to § 600.41(e)(1), termination is warranted.

FINDINGS

    I find that termination of the eligibility of La Newton School of Beauty Culture to participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized by Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, is warranted.

ORDER

    On the basis of the foregoing, it is hereby ordered that the eligibility of La Newton School of Beauty Culture to participate in the student financial assistance programs authorized under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, be terminated.

                        _________________________________
                             Judge Richard F. O'Hair

Dated: April 10, 1997



SERVICE

A copy of the attached initial decision was sent by certified mail, return receipt requested to the following:

Vesper Gibbs Barnes, Esq.
Attorney at Law
1750 Washington Street
Boston, MA 02118

Kelly J. Andrews, Esq.
Office of the General Counsel
U.S. Department of Education
600 Independence Avenue, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20202-2110


Footnote: 1    1Unless otherwise noted, all citations are to 34 C.F.R.