Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Western Career College Sued, Another For-Profit Education Fraud?

Reading the story it certainly has the blueprint of the prototypical for-profit career school scam. Twenty students who graduated from the ultra-sound program are now suing the school for fraud and misrepresentation claiming they were lured into enrollment with misrepresentations about the quality of placement, accreditation, facilities, teaching, internships, whatever they deem necessary to enroll students. Once the student enrolls they find that the promises were illusionary. When the fraud is well prepared, the student does not discover the fraud until they have expended valuable time and money. Watching the KCRA3 broadcast of the story is even scarier as these students claim that they were thrust into ultrasound internships with insufficient training or supervision and that doctors were depending on their accurate diagnosis, a diagnosis they felt unsure about.

Schools that end up in the inquisitive scope of the news media tend to react in two ways. They get on camera or on print and answer the allegations, generally denying them, sometimes with distinct disdain like John Wabel of Crown College did. Others, simply do not comment to the media, like Alen Janish and Mike Girgus of CRI. In this case, the president of the school takes the Crown College avenue, steadfastly defending the school despite the fact that three-quarters of the graduating class is suing them.

In response to the allegation that the students who were interning at the hospital felt that they did not have the training to render competent ultra sound diagnosis, the president states that it is not unusual that a trainee would feel unsure in that position. The president also admitted that the school lacked the proper accreditation a fact that was disclosed in writing to students. However, admission representatives and staff assured the students that the school would get accreditation. That is a standard fraudulent practice by for-profit trade schools and was used by Crown College. Students signed a vague statement that stated that their was no guarantee that the credits would transfer. However, the language was designed to leave the students thinking the credits would transfer in most cases when that was exactly the opposite and Crown College staff knew this. This nebulous statement coupled with admission representatives assuring the students that the credits would transfer completed the fraud.

Many fraudulent schools employ this tactic. We don't have the proper accreditation and/or licensing and/or authorization but we will get it soon, not to worry, by the time you enroll/graduate everything will be in order. He also admitted that some of the students did not get the proper health screening. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out. Reading the plaintiff's attorney's press release certainly makes the school look like the classic for-profit education con.

Ironically, Western Career College is one of only five regionally accredited vocational/trade schools in California. So I can't pound on national accreditation because of their fraud. However, several for-profit schools which are nationally accredited have resorted to fraud, most notably University of Phoenix.


ProfH said...

I was an instructor at a national for-profit "college" with campuses all over the U.S. I happily am no longer with this company as I saw horrible abuses to students and faculty. When I say abuse, I mean that students were socially promoted and there was constant pressure on professors to pass students, keep retention high and keep that financial aid money flowing in. I was forced to call students who hadn't been in class in order to ensure they were coming back so that we didn't have to file a financial aid return with the Federal Govt.

I constantly made administration aware of safety concerns and their response was that if the student were arrested, we'd no longer get their financial aid and our drop-out rate would rise.

I once was informally reprimanded for having a high failure rate in my class because I had two students die and 1 get hauled off to jail. Three out of 15 was a 20% drop rate and that was not good for my job, my pay and my hours.

It was clear what was the major concern for this school - MONEY! This is all at the expense of the student's education and future. I saw students set up for failure and improperly prepared for the harsh job environment we now find ourselves in. Keep fighting the good fight and putting pressure on these glorified diploma mills that rob students of their money and future.

Be smart...go to a local community college that is accredited through the a regional accrediting body other than the ACCSCT or the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges of Technology; their evaluators can be bought and the wool pulled over their eyes. I have gone through a ACCSCT accreditation visit (in an afternoon and most of that spent at a local restaurant) compared to a NCA (North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, The Higher Learning Commission). Their visit lasted for two weeks and included close scrutiny of all course masters, academic information, records, etc., etc., etc. They interviewed professors & students and held community meetings about the college's academic credibility. Needless to say there is a major difference which directly hurts the student.

I now happily work at one of SE Michigan's premier community colleges (accredited through the NCA and highly focused on student learning and success)

Anonymous said...

Hey that sounds exactly like South University. A faculty member was fired there for calling OSHA over lab safety concerns. The Chancellor doesn't even have a graduate degree and has an honorary undergrad degree! The rake in the cash and put office tables in a Microbiology laboratory.