Dept of Education SWAT Raid Raises Questions, Concerns

When armed SWAT agents burst through the door of his home, Kenneth Wright of Stockton, California believed they were there because of a defaulted student loan, writes Jonathan Turley on the Res Ipsa Loquitur blog. At the time of the 6 am raid, Wright was at home with his three children. According to Wright, he was dragged out of his house, thrown against the ground and then placed in squad car, separate from his kids.

Wright wasn’t the subject of the search. The officers were looking for his wife.

Initial statements from the Stockton police included only a confirmation that a raid had taken place and the department had provided an officer and a squad car to assist. According to the ABA Journal, it was the federal agents who actually conducted the raid and conducted the house search on behalf of the U.S. Department of Education.

A statement by the Department of Education Deputy Press Secretary Daren Briscoe denied Wright’s allegations that a student loan payment was the cause.

 “The Inspector General’s Office does not execute search warrants for late loan payments,” he said.

“Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can’t comment on the specifics of the case,” Briscoe said. “We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30 to 35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.”

Wright told News10 his children were traumatized by the incident. “All I want is an apology for me and my kids and for them to get me a new door,” Wright told the broadcast station.

The Department of Education’s purchase of shotguns last year raised questions and concerns about the aggressiveness of the Department’s regulation efforts.

A full statement appears on Reason.com and said that early media reports that the search was over a loan were incorrect. The DOE was conducting a raid as a standard part of a criminal investigation. The OIG typically handles matters related to bribery and embezzlement and neither requests nor executes search warrants for late student loan payments.

Because this is an ongoing criminal investigation, we can’t comment on the specifics of the case. We can say that the OIG’s office conducts about 30-35 search warrants a year on issues such as bribery, fraud, and embezzlement of federal student aid funds.

All further questions on this issue should be directed to the Department of Education’s Inspector General’s Office.

The Reason article was later updated with information that Stockton PD took a very limited role in the raid, simply providing one car and one officer at the request of the Office of the Inspector General.

Police officers did not participate in breaking Wright’s door, handcuffing him, or searching his home.