The Massachusetts Board of Elementary and Secondary Education

Rescission of Regulations on Private Occupational Schools, 603 CMR 3.00 - Proposed for Action as Emergency Regulations on April 29, 2014

Members of the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education
Mitchell D. Chester, Ed.D., Commissioner
April 18, 2014.

I am recommending that the Board of Elementary and Secondary Education vote on April 29, 2014, to rescind our soon-to-be-obsolete Regulations on Private Occupational Schools, 603 CMR 3.00. We are using the emergency regulations provision of the State Administrative Procedure Act so we can coordinate our timing with the Division of Professional Licensure (DPL), which now oversees these private proprietary schools and is adopting new regulations to govern their operations and provide appropriate consumer protections. Our rescission of the old regulations would take effect immediately and would be in effect for three months. During that time, the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education would seek additional public comment, as required. With the Board's approval, I plan to bring back the regulations to the Board for a final vote at your June 2014 meeting.

Background on the Law

With the enactment of Chapter 106 of the Acts of 2012, An Act Relative to Oversight of Private Occupational Schools, the authority to regulate private proprietary schools was transferred from the Department to the DPL. The Governor filed this legislation as part of the administration's statutory reform initiative to reduce redundant state oversight. Chapter 106 unified proprietary school licensure in a single executive office dedicated to business regulation and consumer protection, thus providing greater protection for consumers and enabling the Department to focus on its core mission of K-12 public education.

Collaboration with the Division of Professional Licensure

In accordance with Chapter 106, the Board's Regulations on Occupational Schools remain in effect until DPL promulgates regulations governing proprietary schools. To ensure there is no gap in the regulation of these schools, the Department has worked closely with DPL so that the effective date of the rescission coincides with the effective date of DPL's new regulations.

Reason for Emergency Regulations

Under the Administrative Procedure Act, G.L. c. 30A, § 3, if an agency finds that the immediate adoption or rescission of regulations is necessary for the preservation of the public health, safety, or general welfare, and that observance of the requirements of prior notice and public comment would be contrary to the public interest, the agency may dispense with the usual notice and comment requirements and adopt the regulation as an emergency regulation. An emergency regulation remains in effect no longer than three months, unless during that time the agency follows the notice and comment process.

With the Board's approval, the Department will provide notice and an opportunity for public comment on the emergency regulations, in accordance with the requirements of G.L. c. 30A, § 3, within the next two months, and then bring them back to the Board for final action in June 2014.

I recommend that the Board vote to adopt the emergency regulations this month. If you have any questions on the proposed regulations, please contact me or Rhoda Schneider, General Counsel. She and Debra Comfort, Associate General Counsel, will be at the April 29 Board meeting to respond to your questions.