The state Attorney General’s office fired the latest salvo Wednesday in its ongoing investigation into the for-profit education industry, asking the courts to force San Diego-based Bridgepoint Education to turn over thousands of records to investigate complaints that students are being lured with false promises.
Officials are investigating whether the company violated false advertising laws by misrepresenting its program, including the cost of completing a degree, availability of financial aid, transferability of credits, and post-graduation employment rates. The Attorney General’s petition, filed in Sacramento County Superior Court, asks the court to enforce a previous subpoena asking Bridgepoint to turn over as many as 40,000 records of audio recordings and transcripts between university telemarketers and students and prospective students. Bridgepoint has offered to turn over only about 800 records, and has redacted portions of records already provided to the state, officials said. The company has said turning over additional records would be an unfair burden and potentially cause a “public relations disaster,” the Attorney General’s petition said.
Company officials declined to comment. Investigations into Bridgepoint are also ongoing in New York, Iowa and North Carolina, the Associated Press reported.
The company operates Ashford University in Iowa and the University of the Rockies in Colorado and serves nearly 80,000 students, mostly through online courses. The publicly traded corporation generated $968 million in revenue in 2012, the Attorney General’s petition said.
The petition against Bridgepoint is part of a larger state investigation by Attorney General Kamala Harris’ office into whether for-profit universities are overstating the value of their degrees, the AP said.