School’s (Found) Out In Attorney General’s Probe
A Melville-based school was one of several academic institutions found to have inflated job placement rates for its graduates, the State Attorney General’s office announced Aug. 19.
The Sanford-Brown Institute, operated by the Illinois-based Career Education Corporation (CEC), manages a Melville campus after assuming ownership of the Katharine Gibbs School in 2008.
In a settlement agreement, the CEC was forced to pay $10.25 million in restitution to students who were misled by the organization.
According to Attorney General Eric Schneiderman’s office, the for-profit institution exaggerated post-graduation job rates from 2008-2011 as a way to “lure students” to their schools.
The CEC was found to have grossly inflated job rates, from an actual placement range of 24.1 percent to 64.1 percent to an embellished range of 54.9 percent to 80.2 percent, the attorney’s office said.
The CEC also failed to tell students that some programs lacked the programmatic accreditation necessary to sit for qualifying exams, and according to the attorney’s office, were thus “highly unlikely to obtain employment.”
Additionally, the institution did not disclose to students that credits earned at the Sanford Brown Institute were likely non-transferable to most other degree-granting colleges.
“Students pay thousands of dollars to for-profit colleges because they rightly believe education is the ticket to success in their careers. That’s why it’s so unfortunate that this company exploited students’ aspirations and published misleading information,” Schneiderman said in a press release.
The $10.25-million settlement will go toward restitution to students, $1 million of which is a penalty. The company is required enforce “substantial changes” in how it determines and authenticates graduate placement rates, the attorney’s office said.
The CEC also operates a Sanford Brown campus in Garden City and runs Briarcliff campuses in Bethpage and Patchogue, as well as others throughout the state. Worldwide, including online enrollment, the company serves 75,000 students.
Many high-ranking employees and managers who played a part in the scam were terminated, the attorney’s office said.
CEC’s Senior Director of Corporate Communications Mark Spencer said the settlement allows the corporation to move forward with a “heightened focus” on student outcomes and job placement services.
“We remain committed to continually advancing our culture of adherence to legal, regulatory and accreditor requirements, and we’re a stronger organization for having addressed these concerns,” company officials said.