(1) The Legislature intends to protect students and the independent sector of postsecondary education from the detriment caused by licensed institutions that cease operation without providing for the proper completion of student training or for the appropriate refund of student fees. To serve this intention, the Commission for Independent Education may prevent the operation in this state of a licensed independent postsecondary educational institution by an owner who has unlawfully closed another institution and the commission may exercise control over student records upon closure of a licensed institution if the institution does not provide an orderly closure.
(2) At least 30 days prior to closing an institution, its owners, directors, or administrators shall notify the commission in writing of the closure of the institution. The owners, directors, and administrators must organize an orderly closure of the institution, which means at least providing for the completion of training of its students. The commission must approve any such plan. An owner, director, or administrator who fails to notify the commission at least 30 days prior to the institution’s closure, or who fails to organize the orderly closure of the institution and the trainout of the students, commits a misdemeanor of the second degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
(3) If the commission finds that an institution has ceased operating without providing for the proper access to student records, the commission may require the institution to convey all student records to the commission office or to another location designated by the commission or its staff. The commission shall make copies of records available to bankruptcy trustees upon request and to the student or those designated by the student. Confidentiality of the records shall be maintained to the extent required by law. The commission may seek civil penalties not to exceed $10,000 from any owner, director, or administrator of an institution who knowingly destroys, abandons, or fails to convey or provide for the safekeeping of institutional and student records. The commission may use moneys in the Student Protection Fund to facilitate the retrieval or safekeeping of records from an institution that has closed.
(4) The commission may refer matters it deems appropriate to the Department of Legal Affairs or the state attorney for investigation and prosecution.