About 60 former students of Career Point College, a for-profit vocational school that abruptly closed over the weekend, gathered outside the shuttered school’s Austin campus Tuesday evening to demand their transcripts or proof of graduation.
The school’s hundreds of students and staff members were shocked by a Sunday notice from Larry Earle, president and CEO of Career Point, informing them of the immediate closure of all the school’s campuses. Career Point had facilities in Austin, San Antonio and Tulsa, Okla., according to the school’s website.
The closure left students indignant, angry and worried about their futures.
“The reality of it is starting to settle in,” said 21-year-old nursing student Galilea Sesmas, who had completed 11 months of the school’s 18-month nursing program and was holding back tears at the protest. “We put our lives on hold to take our careers seriously, only to receive a very mediocre email saying they cut funding and the school is closed. I want to get credit for the classes I took, but I’m not sure I will.”
A teacher who declined to be named said he was told in a meeting Tuesday that students would receive their transcripts and proof of graduation, but students said no one had contacted them or answered their questions on the matter as of Tuesday.
Earle’s letter said three longtime employees had violated rules related to student aid funds, but did not provide further details.
Earle said no money was stolen and Career Point “agreed to repay all inappropriately received funds.” The U.S. Department of Education, however, restricted government funds received by the school, prompting school administrators’ decision to close it.
“In this very hostile government climate against for-profit schools, the Department of Education chose not to give the College a chance to fix its problems and instead chose to effectively terminate the college,” Earle’s letter said.
Students and staff members were not the only ones outraged with the school’s closure. Jean Jarrett, CEO of local private security company Ranger Protection Agency, said Career Point owed her $12,500 in services rendered since June. Jarrett, who had worked with Career Point for more than two years, said school officials told her they would contact her about paying her but never did.
“We’re screwed,” she said. “We’ve already paid our officers and now we don’t have any way to contact (Career Point officials) to get our payment.”
San Antonio-based attorney Aric J. Garza said about 150 former students and staff members, most from the college’s school of nursing in San Antonio, have reached out to him since Sunday to ask about their legal options.
Career Point is the second for-profit college to shut down in as many months. Last month, ITT Technical Institute closed its 130 campuses across the country, affecting about 40,000 students.
Hundreds of other for-profit colleges could also face closure after the Department of Education moved to sever ties with the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools, the largest accreditor of for-profit schools in the country.
The decision could affect up to 600,000 students attending for-profit colleges across the country.