Lawsuit labels Henrico school a "sham"

HENRICO, VA (WWBT) – A class-action lawsuit calls a for-profit Henrico school a "sham", but its owner is vowing to fight the allegations.

The suit accuses the Richmond School of Health and Technology, now known as RSHT, of making millions off of federal student aid without giving students the education they expect. Words like "scheme" and "sham" are found in the 40-page lawsuit filed last week, accusing RSHT of having a "single-minded" focus on money, at the expense of "unsophisticated" students.

At 28-years-old, plaintiff Amanda Smith is living beneath a mountain of federal student loan debt. $20,000; the price -she says- of her education at RSHT. The problem is, she claims she never got what she paid for.

"Just really frustrated and upset that a lot of broken promises were made, and I'm basically worse off than when I started," Smith said Tuesday.

In a federal class action lawsuit, Smith and another plaintiff, Mary Morgan, claim RSHT is a "sham" that makes money off its students, but "earns an F in serving their educational interests." For example, Smith wanted to become a surgical technician, but she says the education was "not remotely sufficient."

"So now I'm stuck without a [higher paying] job [as a surgical technician] and I don't want anybody to go through what I went through," Smith said. Currently, Smith works as a lab technician at a local hospital.

However, the school's longtime owner said the allegations are "unfounded" and "offensive."  Margaret Knight said, "I know that I'm telling the truth and that I run a good school. We don't make false promises."

Knight also said the allegations, reported Monday by, fall into two self-described categories: Those that are not true, and, those that don't violate any official regulation.

For example, the school advertises that it's near the bus line, relied on by African American students who RSHT believes are "unsophisticated" according to the lawsuit. RSHT vows to fight the allegations in court; the very place where it will go face-to-face with at least two of its graduates.

"I wanted to get out there and let everybody know what exactly is going on," Smith said.

RSHT is one of approximately 2,000 for-profit colleges that make up to 90-percent of its money from taxpayer sources, most notably federal student loans. The federal government recently began to scrutinize the colleges more thoroughly. As for this case, a future court date has not yet been set.

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