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Scrutiny Mounts Over Idaho-Phoenix Deal

Scrutiny Mounts Over Idaho-Phoenix Deal

Inside Higher Ed

Josh Moody
March 11, 2024
The University of Idaho’s complicated acquisition of the for-profit University of Phoenix hit another roadblock last week when lawmakers voted to slow the sale, citing financial risks and concerns about how the deal has been handled.
The acquisition, in the works since early 2023, has drawn sharp scrutiny from Idaho lawmakers in recent months. State Attorney General Raúl Labrador took the Idaho Board of Education to court in January, alleging members had violated open meeting laws in the acquisition effort. Though the state lost, Labrador appealed to Idaho’s Supreme Court.
A legal rematch is set for June. But the University of Idaho’s plans to proceed with the purchase suffered a setback when state lawmakers voted last week to ask the Board of Education to reconsider the deal. Legislators said in a resolution that they don’t believe “the state’s or the people’s interests have been fully considered or protected by the parties to the proposed affiliation.”
The resolution also gives legislative approval for the state to take legal action against the Board of Education if it doesn’t back off the deal.
Lawmakers are concerned about financial risk, given the University of Phoenix’s checkered background on student outcomes. They also question whether the Idaho Board of Education, which created a new nonprofit venture to facilitate the purchase, had the authority to do so.
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