The lawsuit against BCTI, brought for breach of contract and violation of consumer protection laws, currently includes 49 former students of the school. The judge for the case has ordered that $300,000 in assets be seized from the owners of the school to be held for possible judgements should the lawsuit be successful, apparently stating that he found it likely that they should prevail in at least some of their claims.
This article by David Wickert in the Tacoma News Tribune is noteworthy in actually detailing claims and providing information regarding the problems behind the closure at the school. As I said originally, schools in Washington and Oregon are required to give notice of closure and provide training for current students until graduation. More serious problems come to light in the article:
In February, an Oregon Department of Education investigation concluded that BCTI misled students about its program, admitted students who could not benefit from the training and submitted inaccurate graduation and job-placement statistics to the state. The agency put BCTI on probation.
Washington investigators found evidence of falsified admission tests that allowed unqualified students to receive financial aid. They also found BCTI representatives illegally recruited too close to an unemployment office in Olympia.
And in April, the nonprofit agency that accredits BCTI barred Jonez and Pigott [the owners of the school - ed.] from operating accredited schools, citing substandard graduation and job placement rates, reporting violations and questionable recruiting practices.
Putting a school on probation is usually extremely effective in either making or breaking that school. Schools on probation are generally given a set time period to comply with certain standards or recommendations, and if they do not, the next step is being denied accreditation, which results in ineligibility for government financial aid, as well as losing credibility as a valid educational option. I would guess that the February probation was a major factor in the school's closure in March if the operators knew they would be unable to comply with accreditation demands from either the state or their non-profit accrediting agency.
Normally, I would chastise the non-profit accrediting agency for not barring Jonez and Pigott earlier, as the information they cited had to have been available to them earlier than the school's closure date. I don't blame them, however, as there are currently lawsuits against a Southern regional accreditation agency regarding denial of accreditation to an unqualified school. Until those cases are decided, waiting until the state board moves against a school is simply self-preservation.
While I am in agreement regarding the seriousness of the charges quoted above and contained in the rest of the article, I have to say I'm not too impressed with this type of thing:
They [students - ed.] say the program provided the kind of basic computer training they could get from a book. They say BCTI officials promised a program leading to high-paying jobs, though some wound up working in retail stores and fast-food restaurants after graduation. And they say BCTI recruiters preyed on welfare recipients, the homeless and other vulnerable targets.
If the students could get the training from a book, why didn't they? If the value offered by the school was that bad, why did they pay thousands of dollars for it? And since when does one blame a recruiter from school for one's inability to get a certain type of job? That's like going to Weight Watchers and then suing them because you only lost 35 lbs. instead of as much as the lady on the TV commercials did. On the other hand, if the recruiters promised that the education would make you qualified for a certain type of job, and when you finished, you discovered that you were NOT qualified, and not through lack of effort on your own part, then I would agree with the students.
[Originally posted August 2005]