Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Herzing College Responds

An anonymous post was posted in response to a blog article presumably from somebody at Herzing College and I wanted to respond to it. The author of the newspaper article referred to in the "anonymous" post did not ascribe any malicious intent to Herzing, as far as I read. She did report that a current Crown student who presumably contacted Herzing was concerned that all her credits would not be accepted, and more importantly that the school would cost more money than Crown College. As I understand it, the reporter did attempt to contact the school and did not receive a response. The publisher of the blog article also attempted to contact the school and was unsuccessful. The publisher of the blog article did speak with a person who had contacted Herzing College and the person that person spoke to was reluctant to talk to her about specifics concerning Herzing's accepting Crown students.

It is therefore possible that Herzing College initially did decide to accept all credits for which a "C" or better had been earned, reduce the amount of tuition it was charging and offer complimentary software and books to the students who are currently enrolled in Crown and this "offer" was not prompted by the publishing of the second Tacoma News Tribune article and, consequently Herzing never "changed" its position. It is just that nobody was able to ascertain Herzing's position though valid attempts were made to do so.

The author of the blog article, well me, did suspect that Herzing College "changed,", "clarified," "redefined," its position because of the second article. I also suspected, and still do, that their decision to accept Crown College students is not totally altruistic and that their motivations partly revolve around generating name recognition for the school and an influx of revenue, aka students. That in and of itself is not necessarily nefarious and there may be few purely altruistic decisions any commercial enterprise makes. I believe that Herzing's decision to accept all the credits of Crown's College's students' and offer them such favorable terms is puzzling in light of the checkered history of Crown College. I do not believe that this "opportunity" is being extended to non-current Crown College students who have already graduated or quit. Thus, this offer could be a loss leader and they hope to entice former Crown College students to attend there school on terms more profitable to them. Those students will still not be made "whole" as many had hopes of continuing their education at non-profit public universities which cost a good deal less than the likes of the few known schools willing to accept Crown College credits for transfer, including Herzing College.

This blog is about for profit education and what I personally feel is the inherent conflict of interest in any institution that is resolved to provide an education AND make a profit doing it. Many for profit schools, including many of the bigger "players" have been routinely accused of, sued for, and/or settled allegations accusing them of misrepresenting their accreditation, placement rates, facilities, licenses, faculty, transferability of their credits in order to induce prospective students to enroll and stay enrolled so they are able to profit from the revenue derived from them.

However, I have not been able to locate any such allegation, complaint or lawsuit about Herzing College. They are also one of the few for-profit education schools who have are regionally accredited so, they will theoretically not suffer from the "transfer of credit" blues. If they are a purely a white knight, the are to be commended.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Herzing Will Now Accept All Crown College Credits From Current Students

In an earlier Tacoma News Tribune Article, a student stranded by Crown College's loss of accreditation lamented that, despite John Wabel's assurances, Herzing College would only take a portion of her credits and that it cost more than Crown College. Thus, she would have to attend Herzing College for two more years before she received her Bachelor's degree and borrow more money.

It appears, that in response to that article, Herzing has "reversed" course and now, as reported in a follow-up Tacoma News Tribune story, Herzing states that it will accept all the credits of Crown College students currently stranded by Crown College's closure as long as they are earned a "C" or better which is standard practice for transfer. Also, Herzing will charge them reduced tuition and give them complimentary software and books.

Hmmmm, it would appear that Herzing changed (or clarified) its position not out of some kind of everyman, altruistic concern for the academically shipwrecked students but out of perhaps embarrassment at the previous story which appeared to contradict the first reports that they would take all the credits. They are after all a for-profit institution so unfortunately, their motives are suspect. This is an opportunity for them get an influx of students and some name recognition. It also displays the power of the media. Had the Tacoma News Tribune not published the story of the Crown College student whose credits were not going all be accepted and the higher tuition, would Herzing College have changed their position? Somehow I do not think so.

However, the end result will be that the last batch of Crown College students will be the most fortunate inasmuch as they will end up with a credits and degrees from a regionally accredited institution making them truly transferable to most institutions. Something none of the previous 17 years of Crown College students had despite the fact that many admission representatives told them that. Ironic, that they are saved by Crown College's demise! Truly ironic.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Crown College Key Employees Investigated for Financial Aid Fraud

As the Seattle Times reported, federal investigators suspect several Crown College employees of financial aid fraud, conspiracy to defraud and bank fraud. The Department of Education, Office of Inspector General served a search warrant on Crown College and seized records, a lot of records as the returned search warrant details. Apparently, some clever Crown employees, when they suspected that Crown College was going to close, applied for federal loans and grants though they were not and had no intention of attending classes. They figured that once Crown closed the loans would be discharged under Department of Education rules governing school closures and they would retain the funds thus unjustifiably enriching themselves. Unfortunately, Crown did not close when they thought it would, so they dummied up documents giving the appearance that they were attending the school.

Well considering how these employees excel in contriving documents and lying to prospective students, (Read the Declaration of Adrienne Rocco, a former admissions representative and her complaint to the ACCSCT) this was easy enough for them to do. Especially since many of them lack a moral compass, traits that made them quite valuable to school whose profits were premised on lies. There are a few honest employees at the school, as misplaced as they are, and one of them reported the fraud to the HECB which reported it to the Department of Education.

Mr. Wabel informed the Seattle Times that he was unaware of the investigation and declared that the perpetrators were innocent. It seems that Mr. Wabel, as is his habit, was looking the other way, or perhaps behind his back (as he is in the above picture of a Crown College employee get together). However, the affidavit filed in support of the search warrant strongly implies that Mr. Wabel was indeed aware of the investigation, notwithstanding his statement to the contrary. Moreover, the affidavit cites a kaleidoscope of evidence pointing to the potential culpability of all the Crown College administrators named in the search warrant which include Sheila Mullineaux, the director of the school, Jesy McMullin, the senior admissions representative (who allegedly lied about the transferability of Crown credits to several former Crown students), Misty Lee, the financial director and Jennifer Byers, the business manager.

Mr. Wabel is quoted as saying that the employees listed in the warrant "are good at what they do." Would that be lying and stealing? The fact that some of the most trusted, and senior administrators at Crown might endeavor to defraud the federal government simply because they felt that they could get away with it, shows you how casually they could defraud the very students who depended on them for guidance and truth. It might well be why they rose so high in the organization. Mr. Wabel has to be proud of his employee selection process!

BCTI Former Owners Trying to Appease the Masses?

This article in the Oregonian talks about how BCTI's owners have tried to cooperate with authorities in paying back sums owed and signing off on their insurer paying 9 million to the class action plaintiffs and allowing the plaintiffs to go after another 50 odd millions. The interesting part of this article is the Declaration of former BCTI career consultant Lonna Walden. She details the way BCTI operated and the many "stoogents" they signed up:

"During the time I was at BCTI, I enrolled people who were disabled, people who were poor, people who just got out of prison, Level 3 sex offenders, domestic violence victims, people that were simply less fortunate where life had been a rough road for them including individuals from the Department of Social and Health Services (“DSHS”) and Behavioral Health Rehabilitation (“BHR”). For example, Perry Bulkley had a severe head injury and was disabled. I asked Mona Lawrence upon his enrollment where we could possibly place him upon graduation. She said that she had a place called “Morningside” that hired people with disabilities. Since I left BCTI, I have seen Perry standing aimlessly on street corners in the Lacey area." Decl., page 3, para. 8. Her declaration shows that BCTI was geared to enroll whatever students it could enroll with no regard to educating them whatsoever. This, of course, completely contradicts, the protestations of innocence of BCTI's owners, Tom Jonez (pictured in his new job running a Christian ministry) and Morrie Pigott. Ironically enough, Jonez and Pigott met at a Christian youth ministry in the 1970s according to the Tacoma News Tribune article by Dave Wickert.

It certainly makes one wonder what kind of Christianity they were practicing! Of course, they are adamant that they did nothing wrong, that the enrollment contracts specifically emphasized that they did not promise any student a job. Again, the reliance on the written contract which somehow nullified all the verbal cajoling and promises of jobs!

Thursday, August 16, 2007

John Wabel, Humanitarian to Students ... In His Dreams!

After recovering from laughing so hard at the quote "not a dry eye in the building" in the Seattle Times article referring to the state of Crown College's shuttered employees I was confronted with the Tacoma News Tribune article which quotes John Wabel (pictured with Randi Jones, Director of Education, left, and unknown employee) stating that "That is the only thing that mattered to us then, and it's all that matters now," referring to his efforts to assist students in jumping from the wrecked ship that is Crown College. Strange that he is attempting to help the students now, when he could have provided them much more assistance in not lying to them when they first had the misfortune of crossing the "virtual" threshold of his school and getting their "virtual" education. Instead he and his admission representatives lied about the accreditation of the school and the transferability of their credits. Ironically enough, Mr. Wabel was quoted in a Seattle Times article: "Crown College owner John Wabel remains adamant that Crown credits transfer in many cases." However, if the credits transfer "in many cases" he wouldn't have to be scouring the nation to find a school that accepts them now, so far locating only an obscure online school in Wisconsin which apparently will not take all the credits.

Mr. Wabel laments that his school was closed by the ACCSCT as opposed to the ACCSCT trying to help him place more students in jobs. Mr. Wabel does not identify how the ACCSCT was supposed to assist his school. However, this a continuation of Mr. Wabel's attempt to shift the blame for his own shortcomings. Now its the accreditation's agency's fault that the education that his students pay so dearly for, is inadequate. When he was sued successfully it was the plaintiff's fault. In fact, he is quoted in the article as calling her a liar:

"It did not happen," Wabel said. "We are not wrong, and it sets a precedent for the entire industry. Anybody can make up a story, but what is in writing?"

Well I guess its sets a precedent for the part of the industry -- and for-profit education is indeed an industry -- that lies to its prospective students, which is, well most of the industry. The for-profit education industry is notorious for having admission representatives tell ever increasing fibs about key aspects of the school which are disavowed by the contract. These students who tend to be trusting and somewhat naive, tend to trust the admission representatives who they assume are there to assist them.

John Wabel's Fantasy Land - More on Crown College Closure

Reading Crown College’s press release regarding its closure is hilarious as it speaks of “being removed from the ACCSCT’s list of accrediting schools” in terms most clinical. It's as if losing its accreditation was a coincidental occurrence devoid of any negative connotation attached to Crown College itself. It was if they left the accreditation on the top of their car as they drove off and it fell off, just a happenstance, an unfortunate accident. According to article today in the Tacoma News Tribune, the revocation of Crown's College accreditation by the ACCSCT was the result of Crown's failure to place enough (70%) of the students in the fields they were training for. Thus, one could reasonably conclude that Crown's curriculum, facilities and/or faculty were inferior. Or, it could also be their reputation was such that employers were reluctant to hire their graduates.

The "management" of Crown, attribute their loss of accreditation to the supposed "turmoil" in education and Crown’s lack of nimbleness and finances. It is hard to understand how "turmoil" in education or nimbleness is relevant to their inability to place 70% of their graduates in the jobs they are paying Crown to train them to fill. However, the lack of finance might well be at fault, inasmuch as not enough money is going into the process of education vis a vis promoting or inducing students to attend. The amount of money charged, $17,000 a year for a truncated, quickie education program should pay enough for a good education considering how much less community colleges charge. Perhaps that money was not being properly utilized? More likely that money was obviously not being properly utilized! It was going into John Wabel's and Sheila Mullineaux's collective pockets instead of to a sound system that worked. The fabled Cloudroom that Mr. Wabel totes as so innovative has never worked right according to many of the students I have spoken to.

Monday, August 6, 2007

Crown College Loses ACCSCT Accreditation!

Finally, it has happened, Crown College's accrediting agency the ACCSCT could not ignore the antics and misadventures of John Wabel and Sheila Mullineaux (both pictured) and their merry gang of deceitful thieves who have been running a reverse Robin Hood scam, stealing from the poor and giving to the rich, mainly themselves. They have systematically instructed their admission representatives to lie to students about the transferability of their credits since at least 1998. About 50 victims of this fraud have come forth and the testimony of ten of them was instrumental to the jury finding that Crown College had violated the Consumer Protection Act in early 2006. It takes a "special" person to blatantly lie repeatedly to poor students who are attempting to improve their economical standing. A letter from the ACCSCT dated July 31, 2007, that it has revoked Crown College's accreditation. Unfortunately, many of the students that they swindled will not get their day in court or any other recompense. One of the reasons that Crown College was able to get away with their little charade was because they fell into a regulatory crack. Since they granted degrees the were not under the auspices of the WorkForce Board. Since they had been operating in Washington state for some time accredited by an agency recognized by the Department of Eduction, to wit, the ACCSCT they were exempt from the HEC Board. By virtue of the ACCSCT pulling their accreditation, they have lost that exemption. If they "reopen" they will have to apply to the HEC Board for approval. Hard to see how they will merit such approval and if they do, the HEC Board will certainly by a more stringent master than the ACCSCT and will not put up for their deceptive practices.

Hmmm, does that mean that regulation works, well eventually maybe and helped out by other factors, mainly a trio of successful lawsuits and the resulting mass of bad publicity. The ACCSCT has had Crown College on probation more times than Alan Sandler had bad dates. In fact, they were on probation when they were first sued back in January of 2006. A Pierce County jury found that they had violated the Washington State Consumer Protection Act and the judge awarded a $6,000 judgment and $77,000 in attorney fees. They settled another lawsuit for $87,000. Those lawsuits shined a decidedly unflattering light on the school. According to an article in the Puget Sound Business Journal, this may well be the final demise of a school which was built on not too subtle lies and deception.

There is an article in the Seattle Times about Crown College closing. I thought I might die from lack of oxygen, it being very difficult to breath while laughing. "Not a dry eye in the building." Who knew that crooks could cry, well apparently when it comes to be separated from their money. I wonder how many dry eyes are among their many student victims. Sheila Mullineux talks about how they are the Little Engine That Could School which is apparently the party line. In reality, they are a school that has generated money based completely on lies and they have lied with astounding impunity and a disregard for reality that is astonishing in its scope. They have probably built up such an immunity to truth such that their tongues might break out in sores if they spoke it! John Wabel denials that Crown's admission representatives lied to prospective students ratchets up in direct proportion to the evidence they they did. At the Gonzalez trial, one of the jury members told me that Mr. Wabel was his own worst enemy and he continues to be. In a Tacoma News Tribune they claim they will do some restructuring and reopen. Perhaps they mean the installation of truth monitors...

Approximately 50, and counting, former students have come forward and told attorneys or news media that they have been told by Crown College admission representatives that Crown College's credits would transfer to regionally accredited schools. Crown lost one lawsuit and settled two. There are two more pending lawsuits right now. Dale Pryor v. Killebrew/Dalton, Inc., John Wabel and Sheila Mullineux, Pierce County Case No. 07 2 060885 and Roberta Swigert and Janelle Page v. Killebrew/Dalton, Inc. and John Wabel, also in Pierce County Superior Court. In the second lawsuit, the plaintiffs have schedule a motion for default as the defendants have not filed an answer.

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Corinthian Colleges Settles California Lawsuit

One of the largest players in the lucrative "business" of for-profit education, Corinthian Colleges, has settled a lawsuit with the California Attorney General's Office. The hits just keep on coming apparently, leaving one wondering if there are any for-profit schools which are not attempting to cheat their students or marks. Corinthian will pay $6.5 million to settle a lawsuit "alleging" that the chain engaged in deceptive business practices by lying about their job placement record. This is an extremely common practice among for-profit schools, along with lying about accreditation or the transferability of credits, ala Crown College or Florida Metropolitan University. For-profit education's business model favors the bottom line at the expense of the students and thus is fatally flawed. There is a press release from the California Attorney General's Office which includes a copy of the complaint and the final judgment. There are so many instances of students being fleeced by these schools that one might wonder if any of these schools are legitimate. When you have the leaders in the for profit industry admitting that they are lying about their capabilities, then can the others be far behind? The for profit education industry is very much like the health club industry according to this article about American Intercontinental University.