Partner Farnaz Farkish Thompson Quoted on New Ed Tech Guidance

April 11, 2023

Recent guidance published by the U.S. Department of Education (ED) has the potential to dramatically impact the education technology industry, McGuireWoods Washington D.C. partner Farnaz Farkish Thompson told The Chronicle of Higher Education in an April 6, 2023, story.

In a “Dear Colleague” letter it published in February, ED for the first time announced plans to subject online program managers (OPMs) — outside contractors that run colleges’ and universities’ online programs — to regulatory oversight and liability for violations of federal education law.

2U, one of the behemoths of the OPM industry, filed a lawsuit seeking to enjoin the guidance.

In the article, titled “2U Lawsuit Claims Looming Education Dept. Guidance Breaks the Law,” Thompson, the firm’s education industry team leader, said it is becoming increasingly common to challenge guidance if “it affects someone’s livelihood or, in this particular circumstance, threatens a sector.” She predicted that, in this case, it’s more likely that organizations or companies will file briefs in support of 2U’s suit, instead of filing their own.

“The definition of third-party servicer changing would really affect the education-technology industry,” Thompson said. “I think there will be more people who support the plaintiff’s position.”