Concord Law , Kaplan University’s on line law school, which is owned by the Washington Post Company, is holding an “academic” symposium On Oct 29, 2011 entitled” Privacy vs. Free Speech in the age of Mass Media, 21st Century Communications and Social Media”.

 Concord   decided to utilize 21st Century communications to promote the symposium using a Business Wire press release (http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20111024005801/en/Concord-Law-School-Brings-Leaders-Media-Law).

 A list of eight prominent luminaries partaking in the symposium was published. But in the press release Concord failed to disclose that it is owned by the Washington Post Company and that five of the “luminaries” have financial or employment ties to Concord and / or the Post Company.

The moderator Arthur Miller is listed as one of the nation’s preeminent legal experts. The press release failed to disclose that Miller is a supplementary lecturer at Concord Law School.

Donald Graham is listed as CEO and chairman of the Board of the Washington Post Company (WaPo).  The press release failed to disclose that Concord is owned by the Washington Post Co., and Donald Graham owns more than 10% of the Post Company.

Kevin Baine is listed as a Williams and Connolly partner. The press release failed to disclose that he serves as outside counsel for the Post Company in matters such as false claims lawsuits, shareholder lawsuits, state and federal investigations. Baine has also represented Kaplan in its lobbying of the Obama administration.

Panel member Ruth Marcus is listed as an editorial writer for The Washington Post; and Dahlia Lithwick, as a senior editor at Slate. The press release failed to disclose that both are employees of the Washington Post Company, owner of Concord Law School.

The other three luminaries listed in the press release were Jim Lehrer from the PBS Newshour, Albert Hunt Washington Editor of Bloomberg news, and David Sentelle Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit.

Did Concord disclose to these three panelists that Concord was owned by the Washington Post and they were participating in a “symposium” populated primarily by Post company associates? And did the three agree to allow their names and the names of their employers to be used to promote Concord in the press release and on Concord Law School’s home page (http://info.concordlawschool.edu/Pages/Homepage.aspx).

These three panelists may have unwittingly subjected themselves to ethical violations and conflicts of interest.

Al Hunt’s employer Bloomberg News previously published several articles detailing questionable business practices at Kaplan University and other for profit colleges. These included: “Homeless High School Dropouts Lured by For-Profit Colleges by Daniel Golden Apr 30, 2010, Kaplan Quest for Profits at Taxpayer Expense Ensnares Veteran by Daniel Golden Nov 1, 2010, and For-Profit Colleges Double Spending, Hire Ex-Congressmen to Beat Aid Rules By John Lauerman and Jonathan D. Salant - Dec 23, 2010.  By participating in the symposium, Hunt is helping to promote an industry Bloomberg News has exposed as unethical.

 Chief Judge of the US Court of Appeals for the DC Circuit David Sentelle is lending his name to a symposium sponsored by the Washington Post’s non ABA accredited law school, paneled by Washington Post Co employees, and held at the Washington Post Headquarters after the Post Co.  recently settled a federal false claims law suit with the Dept. of Justice for $1.6 million regarding allegations of defrauding students at Kaplan’s CHI institute.

The Post and Kaplan are also currently defendants in another federal false claims suit and a federal EEOC lawsuit. Symposium co- panelist Kevin Baine is also defending The Post in a shareholder’s lawsuit filed in US District Court in Washington DC. All this raises about the propriety of Judge Sentelle’s participation in the symposium.

Jim Lehrer’s employer PBS broadcast a  Frontline expose on for profit colleges called College Inc ( http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/collegeinc/ ). And now Lehrer is lending his name and PBS’ name to be used to promote an industry which PBS previously exposed as unethical.  From the PBS College Inc. press release:

In College, Inc., airing Tuesday, May 4, 2010, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS (check local listings), FRONTLINE correspondent Martin Smith investigates the promise and explosive growth of the for-profit higher education industry. Through interviews with school executives, government officials, admissions counselors, former students and industry observers, this film explores the tension between the industry—which says it’s helping an underserved student population obtain a quality education and marketable job skills—and critics who charge the for-profits with churning out worthless degrees that leave students with a mountain of debt.

At the center of it all stands a vulnerable population of potential students, often working adults eager for a university degree to move up the career ladder. FRONTLINE talks to a former staffer at a California-based for-profit university who says she was under pressure to sign up growing numbers of new students. “I didn’t realize just how many students we were expected to recruit,” says the former enrollment counselor. “They used to tell us, you know, ‘Dig deep. Get to their pain. Get to what’s bothering them. So, that way, you can convince them that a college degree is going to solve all their problems.’”

Graduates of another for-profit school—a college nursing program in California—tell FRONTLINE that they received their diplomas without ever setting foot in a hospital. Graduates at other for-profit schools report being unable to find a job, or make their student loan payments, because their degree was perceived to be of little worth by prospective employers. One woman who enrolled in a for-profit doctorate program in Dallas later learned that the school never acquired the proper accreditation she would need to get the job she trained for. She is now sinking in over $200,000 in student debt.

As demonstrated by the press release, it appears the Washington Post Company’s objective was and is to use the symposium as a marketing tool to promote Concord Law School. If their goal was to hold an academic symposium, they should have held it in a neutral setting, invited a panel of independent experts and published appropriate disclosures.

Some of the leading experts and innovators in the field of Privacy and the Internet are based in the Washington area.  These include attorneys Daniel Solove at GWU, Danielle Citreon at Univ of Maryland Law, Marc Roetenberg at EPIC (electronic privacy information center). All are notably absent from the symposium.

The  press release put out by Concord also fails to disclose that Concord is not an ABA accredited law program, which is required to sit for the Bar exam in most states.  Instead it states “Concord is accredited by the Accrediting Commission of the Distance Education and Training Council, a nationally recognized accrediting agency. Concord is the only online law school that is part of a regionally accredited university. Kaplan University is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (www.ncahlc.org) and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools”.

If Concord Law School cannot manage to make basic legal disclosures, avoid conflicts of interest, and conduct themselves in an ethical manner in accordance with the law, this raises questions about their ability to deliver a quality legal education: don’t you think? 

With The WashingtonPost and their Kaplan subsidiary hemorrhaging students, tethering thousands to ‘debt row’, falling under multiple state DA investigations, sucking up taxpayer’s monies and adding to the trillion dollars in students loans while operating like a diploma mill on steroids, is there no shame on the part of the media elite in this country and their pseudo intellectual surrogates and so-called defenders of the rule of law who lend credence to this marketing scam?  The answer of course is no.  Gussied up as intellectuals, legal scholars and journalists these sycophants need to be exposed as the courtesans to power and greed that they are.  And Kaplan and the Washington Post need to be exposed for the criminal enterprises that they are.  These are clearly parasitic organizations  looking for a host.

Perhaps it is time to OccupyKaplan University or Occupy The Washington Post?

REFERENCES

http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20111024005801/en/Concord-Law-School-Brings-Leaders-Media-Law

http://info.concordlawschool.edu/Pages/accreditation.aspx

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-04-30/homeless-dropouts-from-high-school-lured-by-for-profit-colleges-with-cash.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-11-01/kaplan-quest-for-profit-at-taxpayer-expense-ensnares-disabled-u-s-veteran.html

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2010-12-23/for-profit-colleges-double-spending-hire-ex-congressmen-to-beat-aid-rules.html

http://highereducationmanagement.wordpress.com/2010/04/26/college-inc-frontline-pbs-may-4th/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/collegeinc/

http://info.concordlawschool.edu/Pages/accreditation.aspx

http://www.professordougholdenslawblog.com/