It's been called a sham. Tonight NBC12 takes a closer look into the class action lawsuit against a for profit school based in central Virginia. The Richmond School of Health and Technology is accused of making millions-without giving students the education they were promised.
In all 8 former students are suing the school. 40 more people have filled out declarations in support of their claims, including several former teachers and employees. The owner of the school is fighting this lawsuit, asking a judge to dismiss the case.
The words sham and scheme appear over and over in the 100 page lawsuit against the Richmond School of Health and Technology.
"I feel they gave me an education I can't use," said LaDeva Dabney. She signed on the lawsuit last summer after our stories first aired.
RACHEL: "You went to school?"
RACHEL: "You graduated?"
RACHEL: "What are you missing?"
LA-DEVA:" "The education!"
Dabney and seven other plaintiffs like Amanda Smith make similar claims. When we asked, "Do you feel like you were duped?" Amanda answered, "Yes!"
The students say the school- which has a campus at Willow Lawn in Henrico and another in Chester, is in "breach of contract" and encourages students to take out large loans for an education the schools knows is inadequate. They went to the school to become surgical technicians, medical assistants, billing encoders, but they say they left RSHT without any preparation for certification or licensing tests.
"They promised 15 weeks of clinicals and employee job placement and all that and of course they didn't follow through with any of it," said Smith.
Smith owes $20,000 in student loans. LaDeva Dabney is saddled with more than $13,000 dollars in debt. She has a job- just not in a field that has anything to do with her education from RSHT.
"If you go to the store and you buy something that's not good, what do you do? You take it back and get a refund. I can't take my degree back and get a refund," said Dabney.
Dabney says there were times when she went to class and there was no one to lead it. "Sometimes the Librarian came in and sat when their was no teacher."
In the court records- several former teachers have come forward to say RSHT Engaged in "dishonest" and "fraudulent" practices.One teacher says she left the school because she was concerned that it was, "falsifying loan applications and changing grades to keep failing students in school."
"We don't want filming done on our campus unless we know what's going on," said an employee of the school. We were asked to leave the school grounds both times we tried to visit the campuses.
The school's owner- Margaret knight- told NBC12 last summer that the allegations are "unfounded" and "offensive".
The school's attorney- Christopher Perkins, says RSHT has a strong track record. And adds, that the lawsuit appears to be an effort on the part of several plaintiffs to, quote, "ride a recent wave of attacks on educational institutions in a down economy and during a difficult job market."
We checked with the Better Business Bureau and the Henrico campus has an "A" rating- and only 4 complaints have been filed in the last three years.
The Chester campus gets an "A+" and has only one formal complaint.
We also checked with the State council for Higher Education (SCHEV) which regulates schools like RSHT.
In 2010, Schev did get 13 complaints which a spokesperson called unusual. It triggered an audit which lead to the elimination of one program. Since that time- there have been no other formal complaints. But to Dabney and Smith- a clean record with regulators does not say much.
"I can't use my degree. I can't go out and get a job as a medical biller encoder nowhere," said Dabney.
A judge is expected to rule any day now on whether the suit should be dismissed or if the venue should be changed from Washington dc to Richmond.
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