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RULE §7.5Administrative Penalties and Injunctions

(a) A person or institution may not:

  (1) Granting of Degrees--Grant, award, or offer to award a degree on behalf of a nonexempt institution unless the institution has been issued a Certificate of Authority, including an Alternative Certificate of Authority, to grant the degree by the Board;

  (2) Transferability of Credit--Represent that credits earned or granted by that person or institution are applicable for credit toward a degree to be granted by some other person or institution unless the institution is operating under a Certificate of Authority or Certificate of Authorization and has written agreement(s) with the institution which will accept the credit in transfer;

  (3) Honorary Degrees--Award or offer to award an honorary degree on behalf of a private postsecondary institution subject to the provisions of this subchapter, unless the institution has been awarded a Certificate of Authority to award such a degree, or solicits another person to seek or accept an honorary degree and, further, unless the degree shall plainly state on its face that it is honorary;

  (4) Protected Terms--Use a protected term in the official name or title of a nonexempt private postsecondary institution, an educational or training establishment, or describe an institution using any of these terms or a term having a similar meaning, except as authorized by the Board, or solicit another person to seek a degree or to earn a credit that is offered by an institution or training establishment that is using a term in violation of this section;

  (5) Agent--Act as an agent who solicits students for enrollment in a private postsecondary institution subject to the provisions of this subchapter without a Certificate of Registration, if required by this chapter;

  (6) Fraudulent Degree--Use or claim to hold a degree that the person knows is a fraudulent, substandard, or is a fictitious degree:

    (A) in a written or oral advertisement or other promotion of a business; or

    (B) with the intent to:

      (i) obtain employment;

      (ii) obtain a license or certificate to practice a trade, profession, or occupation;

      (iii) obtain a promotion, compensation or other benefit, or an increase in compensation or other benefit, in employment or in the practice of a trade, profession, or occupation;

      (iv) obtain admission to an educational program in this state; or

      (v) gain a position in government with authority over another person, regardless of whether the actor receives compensation for the position.

    (C) The use of fictitious, fraudulent, or substandard degrees--The Board shall provide the following information through the Board's Internet website:

      (i) the accreditation status or the status regarding authorization or approval under this subchapter, to the extent known by the Board, of each exempt institution operating in the state, each postsecondary educational institution or other person that is regulated under §§7.7 - 7.11 of this chapter or for which a determination is made under §7.12 of this chapter (relating to Review and Use of Degrees from Institutions Not Eligible for Certificates of Authority), and any institution offering fraudulent, substandard, or fictitious degrees, including:

        (I) the name of each educational institution accredited, authorized, or approved to offer or grant degrees in this state;

        (II) the name of each educational institution whose degrees the Board has determined may not be legally used in this state;

        (III) the name of each educational institution that the Board has determined to be operating in this state in violation of this chapter; and

        (IV) any other information considered by the Commissioner to be useful to protect the public from fraudulent, substandard, or fictitious degrees.

      (ii) the Board shall utilize such usual and customary sources for determining the accreditation status of institutions, such as: guides to international education; the Board's knowledge of legal actions taken against institutions, either by an agency of the state of Texas or agencies of other states or nations; or civil actions against institutions brought by governmental agencies or individuals.

    (D) In determining the legitimacy of institutions headquartered or operating outside of Texas, the Board may determine if the state or nation in which the person or institution is headquartered, operates, or holds legal authorization to operate has standards and practices that are as rigorous as those of the Board's. A determination that a particular state or nation's standards or practices are not appropriately rigorous shall be sufficient reason to disapprove the use of the degrees of a person or institution.

(b) Institutions Located on Federal Land in Texas--An institution that is operating on land in Texas over which the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction shall limit the recruitment of students and advertising of the institution or its programs or courses to the confines of the federal land and to the military or civilian employees and their dependents who work or live on that land. The institution shall not enlist any agent, representative, or institution to recruit or to advertise by any medium, the institution or its programs or courses except on the federal land.

(c) Offenses--A violation of this subsection may constitute a violation of the Texas Penal Code, §32.52, or Texas Education Codes §§61.312, 61.313. An offense under subsection (a)(1) - (5) of this section may be a Class A misdemeanor and an offense under subsection (a)(6) of this section may be a Class B misdemeanor.

(d) Transfer of Records--In the event any institution now or hereafter operating in this state proposes to discontinue its operation, the chief administrative officer, by whatever title designated, of said institution shall cause to be filed with the Board the original or legible true copies of all such academic records of said institution as may be specified by the Commissioner. Such records shall include, without limitation:

  (1) such academic information as is customarily required by colleges when considering students for transfer or advanced study; and

  (2) the academic records of each former student.

(e) Record Protection--In the event it appears to the Commissioner that any records of an institution that is discontinuing its operations are in danger of being destroyed, secreted, mislaid, or otherwise made unavailable to the Board, the Commissioner may seek, on the Board's behalf, court authority to take possession of such records.

(f) Maintenance of Records--The Board shall maintain or cause to be maintained a permanent file of such records coming into its possession.

(g) Administrative Penalties--If a person or institution violates a provision of this subchapter, the Commissioner may assess an administrative penalty against the person or institution as provided in this section.

(h) Notice of Violation--The Commissioner shall send written notice by certified mail to the person or institution charged with the violation. The notice shall state the facts on which the penalty is based, the amount of the penalty assessed, and the right of the person or institution to request a hearing.

(i) Appeal of Assessment--The Commissioner's assessment shall become final and binding unless, within forty-five (45) days of receipt of the notice of assessment, the person or institution invokes the administrative remedies contained in Chapter 1, Subchapter B of this title (relating to Dispute Resolution).

(j) Collection of Assessment--If the person or institution does not pay the amount of the penalty within thirty (30) days of the date on which the assessment becomes final, the Commissioner may refer the matter to the attorney general for collection of the penalty, plus court costs and attorney fees.

(k) Specific Administrative Penalty--Any person or institution that is neither exempt nor the holder of a Certificate of Authority, including an Alternative Certificate of Authority, to grant degrees, shall be assessed an administrative penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $5,000 for, either individually or through an agent or representative:

  (1) conferring or offering to confer a degree;

  (2) awarding or offering to award credits purported to be applicable toward a degree to be awarded by another person or institution (except under conditions and in a manner specified and approved by the Board);

  (3) representing that any credits offered are collegiate in nature subject to the provisions of this subchapter; and

  (4) with regard to assessment of such specific administrative penalties, each degree conferred without authority, and each person enrolled in a course or courses at the institution whose decision to enroll was influenced by the misrepresentations, constitutes a separate offense.

(l) Other Administrative Penalties--Any person or institution that violates subsection (a)(4) of this section shall be assessed an administrative penalty of not less than $1,000 or more than $3,000.

(m) Specific Administrative Penalties for Agents--Any agent who solicits students for enrollment in an institution subject to the provisions of this subchapter without a Certificate of Registration shall be assessed an administrative penalty of not less than $500 or more than $1,000. Each student solicited without authority constitutes a separate offense.

(n) Termination of Operation--Any operations which are found to be in violation of the law shall be terminated.

(o) Report to Attorney General--The Commissioner may report possible violations of this subchapter to the attorney general. The attorney general, after investigation and consultation with the Board, shall bring suit to enjoin further violations.

(p) Venue--An action for an injunction under this section shall be brought in a district court in Travis County.

(q) Civil Penalties--A person who violates this subchapter or a rule adopted under this subchapter is liable for a civil penalty in addition to any injunctive relief or any other remedy allowed by law. A civil penalty may not exceed $1,000 a day for each violation.

(r) Civil Litigation--The attorney general, at the request of the Board, shall bring a civil action to collect a civil penalty under this section.

(s) Deceptive Trade Practice Act--A person who violates this subchapter commits a false, misleading, or deceptive act or practice within the meaning of the Texas Business and Commerce Code, §17.46.

(t) Applicability of Other Law--A public or private right or remedy under the Texas Business and Commerce Code, Chapter 17, may be used to enforce this section.

(u) Associate of Occupational Studies (AOS) Degree--Texas has three career schools or colleges awarding the AOS degree: Universal Technical Institute, Southwest Institute of Technology, and Western Technical College. The AOS degree shall be awarded in only the following fields: automotive mechanics, diesel mechanics, refrigeration, electronics, and business. Each of the three Institutions may continue to award the AOS degree for those fields listed in this subsection and shall be restricted to those fields. The Board shall not consider new AOS degree programs from any other career schools or colleges. A career school or college authorized to grant the AOS degree shall not represent such degree by using the terms "associate" or "associate's" without including the words "occupational studies." An institution authorized to grant the AOS degree shall not represent such degree as being the equivalent of the AAS or AAA degrees.

Source Note: The provisions of this §7.5 adopted to be effective December 6, 2009, 34 TexReg 8515; amended to be effective February 26, 2013, 38 TexReg 1152

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