By Leisa Zigman
(KSDK) - Attorneys for more than a dozen former college students filed a lawsuit against Sanford-Brown College and its parent company Career Education Corporation.
In May, former students, teachers and an administrator alleged that Sanford-Brown was engaging in aggressive and misleading recruiting tactics.
Keri Phillips graduated from Sanford Brown in May of 2006 with an associate's degree in business administration and accounting. She said only six of her more than 90 credits transferred when she enrolled in another school.
"I'm having to take my associates and my bachelor's degree at a different college,” Phillips said.
She said she owes nearly $30,000 for her Sanford-Brown student loans.
Other students told us in May they are more than $50,000 in debt for a diploma they say is worthless.
Plaintiff attorney Gene Graham of Independence, Mo., filed the lawsuit Wednesday afternoon on behalf of 16 former Sanford-Brown students. He plans to add more students to his petition in the months ahead.
(Click here to read the entire lawsuit)
"What you have is a pattern of fraudulent activity and fraudulent conduct and you have consumer fraud. (Students are) being misled about the transferability of credit hours. They're being misled about Sanford-Brown's accusations concerning what a normal graduate is going to make. They're being misled about curriculum, training and experience of educators themselves,” Graham said.
The petition makes several claims, including fraudulent misrepresentation.
In the licensed practical nurse program, the petition alleges graduates were promised wages of $30 per hour.
The petition states students were told credit hours were transferable to other colleges and universities and that the LPN program would bridge to an accredited registered nursing program.
"Students who don't know each other who have come to see me, who have never met each other, who live in different parts of different cities and different states tell the exact same story,” Graham said.
Sanford-Brown is owned by Hoffman Estates, Ill.,-based Career Education Corporation. CEC is the second largest for profit college in the nation operating 77 campuses in the U.S., France, Canada, Italy, and the United Kingdom.
CEC spokesperson Lynne Baker said via e-mail that the company had not yet seen the complaint and couldn’t comment.
In May, Baker issued a statement regarding similar allegations.
"Thousands of students have benefited from our programs over the years and thousands are satisfied that the education and training they received ... has given them the foundation they needed to move on to successful careers,” she wrote in an e-mail.
After the initial report in May, satisfied students like Adam Gipson wrote to us and said Sanford-Brown is “probably one of the best schools in the St. Louis area." He is a computer specialist making $62,000 a year.
Contact Gene Graham at White, Allinder, Graham & Buckley, LLC, 19049 East Valley View Parkway, Independence, Mo. 64055, by phone at 816-373-9080 or online at wagblaw.com.
To contact Career Education Corporation, call 847-781-3600 or online at careered.com.
If you know of something that needs to be investigated, e-mail the I-Team at firstname.lastname@example.org.