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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Eastern District of California

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, March 9, 2016

Bard College to Pay $4 Million to Resolve False Claims Act Allegations

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Bard College has agreed to pay $4 million to resolve allegations that it violated the False Claims Act in connection with a federal grant and with regard to the receipt and disbursement of Title IV federal student aid funds, United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner announced today.

The settlement announced today stems from a whistleblower complaint filed by two former students of Bard’s Master of Arts in Teaching Program at Paramount Bard Academy in Delano, California (Kern County) pursuant to the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private persons to bring a lawsuit on behalf of the United States and to share in the proceeds of the suit. The act permits the United States to intervene and take over the lawsuit, as it did in this case as to some of the students’ claims. The students will receive a percentage share of the settlement in an amount to be determined.

Bard College, a nonprofit institution with its main campus in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, received funds under the Department of Education’s Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program. The settlement resolves allegations that Bard received funds under the Teacher Quality Partnership Grant Program despite failing to comply with the conditions of the grant.

The settlement also resolves allegations that Bard awarded, disbursed, and received Title IV student loan funds at campus locations before such locations were accredited or before providing notice of such locations to the Department of Education, in violation of applicable regulations and Bard’s Title IV Program Participation Agreements with the Department of Education.

“When institutions of higher education opt to participate in loan and grant programs administered by teh Department of Education, their participation comes with conditions designed to protect the institution’s students and the integrity of the Department of Education’s programs,” said United States Attorney Benjamin B. Wagner. “Today’s resolution demonstrates the Department of Justice’s continuing commitment to ensuring that such institutions meet those conditions and fulfill their promises.”

“Throughout this Administration, the Department of Education has aggressively enforced accountability and compliance laws for institutions of higher education to protect students, families, and taxpayers. Today’s agreement illustrates our commitment to these enforcement efforts,” said U.S. Education Under Secretary Ted Mitchell. “Bard’s resolution through this agreement indicates a willingness to take responsibility, and a commitment to more effectively meet the requirements for implementing grants and distributing federal student aid and loans. As with all institutions, the Department will continuously monitor Bard to ensure that students, families and taxpayers are protected. ”

“I’m proud of the work of OIG special agents and staff and our colleagues in the U.S. Attorney’s Office whose work brought about today’s fair and reasonable settlement,” said Natalie Forbort, Special Agent in Charge of the Office of Inspector General’s Western Regional Office. “We will continue to work together to protect and maintain the integrity of the Department of Education’s programs. America’s taxpayers and students deserve nothing less.”

The settlement was the result of a coordinated effort among the Eastern District of California’s U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Department of Education and the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Inspector General. Assistant United States Attorney Vincente A. Tennerelli represented the United States in this matter.

The claims settled by this agreement are allegations only, and there has been no determination of liability.

Updated March 9, 2016