Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Yarpah v. United States Department of Education

United States District Court, D. Massachusetts

May 1, 2018

ROLAND YARPAH
v.
UNITED STATES DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION, et al.

          ORDER

          RICHARD G. STEARNS UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

         For the reasons set forth below, the court (1) orders that the United States Marshals Service serve a copy of the Complaint and summons for the United States Department of Education on the United States Attorney General and the United States Attorney for the District of Massachusetts; and (2) denies without prejudice Plaintiff's request for a final decision on this case.

         BACKGROUND

         On May 15, 2017, pro se plaintiff Roland Yarpah (Yarpah) filed a Complaint against the United States Department of Education (DOE) and Kaplan Career Institute (Kaplan). (Dkt. #1). He also filed a motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis. (Dkt. #2). In an order dated May 19, 2017, the court granted Yarpah's motion for leave to proceed in forma pauperis and ordered that summonses issue. (Dkt. #5).

         I. Court's Review of the Complaint

         Prior to entering said Order, the court conducted a preliminary review of the Complaint pursuant to 28 U.S.C. § 1915(e)(2). Although Yarpah's pleading is not as clear as it could be, his claims can be discerned without speculation.

         Yarpah alleges that he attended Kaplan and that the institution “falsely certified” his eligibility for a federal student loan to pay tuition. At some later point, Yarpah asked the DOE to discharge his loan on the basis of false certification by Kaplan.[1] In a letter dated March 1, 2017, the DOE denied Yarpah's application for false certification discharge. (Dkt. #1-1). In doing so, the DOE explained the meaning of “false certification”:

Under [certain federal loan programs], schools must certify that student borrowers who do not have a high school diploma or General Educational development (GED) have the ability to benefit from the training offered by the institution. False certification occurs, for example, if the school does not test a student's ability to benefit or conducts testing in an improper manner.[2]

(Dkt. #1-1 at 5). The DOE states that it rejected Yarpah's application for discharge because it had “reviewed information from entities responsible for overseeing the school's compliance with ability to benefit regulations, and has found no documentation of any violations during the time period of [his] enrollment.” Id. The DOE did not suggest that it had undertaken any investigation or consideration of Kaplan's certification of ability to benefit with regard Yarpah in particular. The letter also informs Yarpah that he may file a lawsuit in a federal district court if he disagrees with the DOE's decision.

         Viewing Yarpah's documents in their totality and crediting his well-pled allegations, the court can reasonably that Kaplan wrongfully certified to the DOE his ability to benefit from enrollment at Kaplan and that the DOE wrongfully denied his request for discharge of his federal student loan because of the false certification. Having received a final decision from the DOE on his loan discharge application, Yarpah could seek judicial review pursuant to the Administrative Procedures Act (APA). See 5 U.S.C. § 706(2). This statute permits a court to set aside agency action where it is “arbitrary capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law.” 5 U.S.C. § 706(2)(A). Yarpah's failure to specifically identify his claim against the DOE as arising under the APA does preclude the court from assuming the nature of the claim. See Johnson v. City of Shelby, Miss., 135 S.Ct. 346, 346-47 (2014) (per curiam).

         This action has appears to share some of the issues raised in Price v. U.S. Dep't of Educ., 209 F.Supp.3d 925 (S.D. Tex. 2016), in which the court found that the DOE's decision not to discharge the debt of a student was arbitrary and capricious. The student had claimed that Phoenix University (University) had falsely certified her eligibility for a loan. The University allegedly told the student to lie on her admission application that she had received a high school diploma. The University did not administer and ability to benefit test. When she filed for a discharge of the loan, the DOE denied the request on a ground similar to that put forth in the DOE's letter to Yarpah: in the absence of an audit finding of improper loan eligibility certification practices, there is an inference that none were taking place. Adopting the magistrate judge's Report and Recommendation on the parties' cross motions for summary judgment, the court found that the DOE's decision not to discharge the loan was arbitrary capricious, an abuse of discretion, or otherwise not in accordance with the law. It found, inter alia, that, “[r]ather than seek evidence from [the plaintiff]'s loan file at school, the agency focused exclusively on evidence ‘from entities responsible for overseeing the school's compliance with ability-to-benefit regulations'- that is, program reviews and audits designed to uncover widespread or systemic ATB violations.” Id. at 932 (quoting DOE's decision). The court ordered that the plaintiff be fully discharged from her federal loan and that receive a refund for wages that were garnished to pay her loan. See Id. at 928; see also Salazar v. Devos, C.A. No. 14-01230-RWS (S.D.N.Y Aug. 9, 2017) (Dkt. #72) (approval of class action settlement of claims for discharge of federal student loans based on vocational school's false certification of students' ability to benefit).[3]

         II. Procedural History

         After Yarpah apparently encountered some difficulties with preparing the papers for service, [4] the United States Marshals Service (“USMS”) served the DOE on November 14, 2017. (Dkt. #11). On November 15, 2017, the USMS also served the summons for Kaplan at the Pennsylvania address that Yarpah had provided for the school. The officer who completed service noted that the entity's name had changed to Brightwood Career Institute and that the receptionist had accepted the papers. (Dkt. #12). Neither defendant has responded to the Complaint.

         On April 26, 2018, Yarpah filed a request for a “final decision” on this case. (Dkt. #13). The court ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.