SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (CN) – South Dakota wants the so-called University of Northern Virginia fined and booted out of the state, for violating a state law that prohibits universities from operating there without accreditation from the U.S. Department of Education.
The state and Minnehaha County sued the University of Northern Virginia on Monday in Minnehaha County Court, along with its president Daniel Ho and chancellor Ali Dastmalchi.
The UNV lost its accreditation with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools in 2008, and it has tried – and failed – to secure accreditation ever since, according to the state’s complaint.
The school’s current academic catalog (2014-2016) claims it is accredited in Virginia, but Virginia’s State Council of Higher Education barred the University from offering classes there in 2013, precipitating the school’s move to South Dakota, South Dakota says in the lawsuit.
According to the complaint, the UNV briefly operated in South Dakota under an agreement with IGlobal University, an accredited college, but IGlobal terminated the agreement in December 2013, due to UNVA’s “failure to begin an academic term.”
In Virginia, the school’s campus housed only four classrooms, inadequate for the dozens of classes it claimed to offer there, the Washington Post reported after immigration officials raided the campus.
In South Dakota, “there is nothing … to suggest that any classes are being held there,” the state claims.
The building has no signs or personnel, and is being advertised for lease.
South Dakota also claims that “UNVA’s advertisements and brochures display photographs that are implied to be scenes from its facility that are in fact stock photographs.”
South Dakota seeks penalties and a permanent injunction barring UNV from operating in South Dakota.
The Washington Post published a rather lurid article about the school’s Virginia “campus” a year ago, reporting that the school had been “unaccredited by any recognized group for five years” and had failed four state audits.
The article quoted a fellow at the Center for Immigration Studies, who intimated that the school may have been a ruse to get visas for students from India.
Immigration officials raided the school in July 2011, the Post reported in August that year.
In that Aug. 22, 2011 article , the Post reported that then-Chancellor David Lee had resigned after he was found, allegedly, to have posted an ad on a website stating that he had “transformed his basement into a suburban dungeon complete with bondage racks.” Lee’s post allegedly sought “attractive submissive” women to “be part of our poly family. Ideally you will consider yourself a slave or a sub with slave tendencies,” according to the Post.
In an Aug. 19, 2011 letter posted on the school’s website, Lee wrote that he was resigning because “discussions of my personal life have become a distraction,” the Post reported.
The phone number on the UNV’s “Contact Us” Web page was disconnected on Thursday, and no one answered an alternate number listed on the site.
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