You almost have to hand it to Alen Janisch, the director of CRI, congratulate him even. Mike Girgus too, CRI's Director of Education now that's a misnomer for you. Court Reporting Institute (CRI) may be dwarfed by BCTI in the breadth of its fraud but certainly not its persistence and complexity! Here is one of the complaints that finally got the Washington State Workforce Training and Education Board (Workforce Board) to not renew CRI's license to operate. The headings of her complaint read like the for-profit education fraud play book:
1. CRI provided false information regarding their graduation rate, placement rate, and the time it would take students to graduate.
2. CRI gave false information about the skills necessary to become a court reporter, and the costs to be incurred both as a part of the school and upon graduation.
3. CRI continually misled students regarding accreditation standards the school followed, and additionally misled accreditation agency representatives regarding the type of education that was being taught at the school.
4. CRI advertised courses and instruction that were not actually offered, or taught these courses at a level where a student could not potentially learn them at a professional level.
5. CRI consistently employed students as teachers or self-taught classes to a degree not supported by the National Court Reporters Association (NCRA) standards body, of which CRI was initially a member when I began attending and whose standards level CRI consistently claimed to be teaching at, even after losing their accreditation.
6. CRI courses were run by unqualified staff or by staff members who rotated through class at a rate that is unacceptable among any educational standards.
7. Despite a lack of real learning or educational progress, CRI continually moved students ahead to the next level of instruction, yet without teaching the skills necessary to graduate.
8. CRI completely changed the theoretical foundation of their entire educational approach to court reporting in about 1999, but offered no retraining to students taught under the old method, and provided no method for these students -- including myself -- to succeed.
9. Critical components of an education for court reporting -medical and legal terminology - were taught inadequately and unprofessionally.
10. Instruction on Computer Aided Transcription (CAT) software was completely inadequate, despite being a key and vital daily tool used in any court reporter position.
11. CRI misrepresented the basic typing class instruction and training provide by their school.
Sound familiar? It should, this is a problem with many of the fraudulent for-profit education institutions out there. Deceiving students as to the nature of their accreditation, the quality of the instruction, the instructors and the equipment. It could be Crown College and BCTI all over again. They used fellow students as instructors and most of these were not even in attendance. Instead the students were left to teach themselves on shoddy equipment including Walkman tapes. However, when it became time for more financial aid everybody was promoted to the next class in order to make sure that new money was received.
There was a history of complaints at CRI dating back to 1999 however, CRI managed to stay in business until 2005. One of these former students is not going away though, more on her crusade to get some legislative action and possibly have criminal charges filed.