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Judges split on approving high-cost retraining tuition

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A panel of judges on the Indiana Court of Appeals couldn’t agree on whether a laid-off man’s request for training at an expensive college should be approved.

R.D. worked as a machinist in Bloomington earning nearly $25 an hour. He was laid off and decided he wanted to pursue training under the Trade Act of 1974 at the Art Institute of Indianapolis. He would obtain a degree in graphic arts in print and web in 18 months at a cost of more than $56,000.

The Indiana Department of Workforce Development denied his request based on its cost and noted that he could attend Ivy Tech Indianapolis and receive similar training at a lower cost. The Administrative Law Judge hearing the appeal found the programs to be substantially similar and denied R.D.’s application to attend the Art Institute based on cost. The Review Board affirmed.

After examining the history and purpose of the Trade Act, Judges Paul Mathias and Edward Najam reversed because, based on the evidence, the training R.D. would receive at the Art Institute as compared to Ivy Tech was not similar.

Although nearly two-thirds cheaper in tuition, the program at Ivy Tech allowed for only studying print or web design. R.D. designated evidence that graduates of the Art Institute have a placement rate of more than 78 percent and he could get a full-time job at a salary of approximately $69,000. There was no evidence presented regarding Ivy Tech’s placement and graduates tend to start out at $9 an hour.

One goal of the Trade Act is to get people employed making at least 80 percent of what they were before, wrote Judge Mathias in R.D. v. Review Board, No. 93A02-1005-EX-559. Another precondition for approval of training under the act is that there must to be a reasonable expectation of employment after completing training.

The act says that training may not be approved at one provider, when all costs considered, the training is substantially similar in quality, content, and results at a lower-cost provider with a similar time frame. The majority found, unlike the ALJ, that the two programs are not substantially similar in quality, content, and results, and they don’t even result in the same degree. The majority reversed the denial of R.D.’s request to retrain at the Art Institute.

Chief Judge John Baker dissented because the purpose of the act is to train the highest amount of people at the lowest reasonable cost. Three people could get degrees at Ivy Tech for the cost of attending the Art Institute. Even if R.D. had to get two separate degrees from Ivy Tech to have training in web and print design, it would still be significantly less than his tuition for the Art Institute.

“When considering the purposes of the Trade Act, namely, to provide workers with training at the lowest reasonable cost that will lead to employment and result in training opportunities for the largest number of adversely affected workers, I cannot agree that R.D. has successfully demonstrated that the Review Board’s decision was unreasonable in denying his application for funding to attend the Art Institute,” he wrote. “In short, R.D.’s request for training at the Art Institute does not satisfy the ‘lowest cost’ requirement of 20 C.F.R. section 617.22(a)(6).”
 

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  2. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  3. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  4. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  5. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

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