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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Education Department has moved to sever ties with the nation’s largest accreditor of for-profit schools. That means hundreds of for-profit colleges could close, leaving up to 600,000 students scrambling to find other schools.

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The Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools says it will appeal Thursday’s decision to Education Secretary John B. King Jr.

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The council’s interim president, Roger Williams, says the accrediting group will continue its efforts to renew and strengthen its policies and practices to meet the department’s criteria for accreditors.

The accrediting agency has been accused of lax oversight of its schools, which included those once owned by the now-defunct Corinthian Colleges Inc. and the recently shuttered ITT Technical Institute

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