For-Profit College Accuses Real College of Bullying, Demands Respect

Apparently Keiser University, a proprietary school in Florida, believes that it has been horribly wronged by one state college. And so Keiser has taken the unusual step of suing the president of that college. According to an article by Matt Coleman in the Florida Times-Union:

Keiser… sued Florida State College at Jacksonville President Steven Wallace and one of his top administrators, claiming the pair colluded with opponents of for-profit colleges in a targeted smear campaign against the school.

A Freedom of Information Act request by Keiser yielded e-mails sent by Wallace and his vice president of government relations, Susan Lehr, to Wall Street short sellers and public college advocates who were highly critical of proprietary colleges. One of the short sellers, Steve Eisman, delivered a scathing assessment of the for-profit industry in May during a congressional hearing.

And apparently some of the points Eisman made were very similar to what Lehr said. Or something. As far as Keiser is concerned, the trouble is that Eisman mentioned the school by name.

According to the Keiser lawsuit: “The conspirators’ orchestrated negative publicity directly harmed Keiser, which the conspirators identified by name as a target of their activities.”

Keiser is apparently seeking “an injunction against false claims.” In June Steven Eisman said that schools like Keiser saddled students with debt they were unlikely to repay given their job prospects and deceived students in order to recruit them. Were those claims false?

Florida State College at Jacksonville issued a statement about the lawsuit earlier this week:

The suit is absurd. We are not concerned in the slightest because we have done nothing improper. We are simply trying to protect our local college students from excessive debt. We will continue to do so on behalf of our community and will defend the college vigorously in court.

Both Keiser and FSCJ have similar students: low income, older, and generally the first people in their families to attend college.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer