MAPCS: Massachusetts Attorney General Coakley’s Controversial New Regulations Spark Lawsuit

BOSTON--()--The Massachusetts Association of Private Career Schools (MAPCS) has sued Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley in federal court to challenge as unconstitutional and in conflict with federal law new regulations that target private, for-private colleges.

“Really, we felt we had to bring this challenge”

MAPCS represents over 40 Career Colleges that help students in the Commonwealth further their educations and advance their careers. MAPCS’ complaint, filed in the United States District Court of Massachusetts on Thursday, September 25, alleges that the new regulations unfairly target career-oriented educational institutions and are unenforceable because they:

  • violate the free speech guarantees of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution;
  • violate Due Process through vague or otherwise unenforceable prohibitions; and
  • exceed the Attorney General’s statutory authority, while conferring on herself unlimited discretion to impair private career schools’ mission to provide education and training to non-traditional students.

“MAPCS supports eliminating deceptive practices by both proprietary and non-profit institutions of higher education,” said Catherine Flaherty, Executive Director of MAPCS. “The challenge is that these regulations will not benefit consumers. These regulations arbitrarily target proprietary schools and impose inconsistent, unclear, and unduly onerous requirements that harm our schools and limit our ability to help students.”

According to the Complaint, some of the regulations’ problematic provisions (1) prohibit institutions from accurately describing transfer credits; (2) force colleges to turn away students that meet admissions criteria based on subjective hunches of how they might fare in the workforce; and (3) restrain institutions from communicating with interested students. The regulations also impose burdensome new disclosure requirements that conflict with well-established reporting requirements under federal, state, and accreditor regulations. According to MAPCS, the result is a deeply flawed, misinformed and misguided regulatory regime that compels inaccurate and misleading statements, restricts lawful speech, and requires the publication of novel, confusing graduation and placement rates that lack any rational basis.

“Really, we felt we had to bring this challenge,” Ms. Flaherty said. “If enforced in their current form, the proposed regulations would not only inflict unjustified harm on proprietary schools, but also the careers and futures of the very students that they are designed to protect.”

MAPCS is being represented by Robert Lovett, a partner of Cooley LLP based in Boston.


MAPCS is a non-profit membership organization of private sector educational institutions that offer career-specific training. MAPCS has over 50 member and associate member institutions operating in Massachusetts that serve over 14,500 students.


Massachusetts Association of Private Career Schools (MAPCS)
Catherine Flaherty