Brockton For-Profit School to Repay Students $425,000 Following Claims of Misleading Ads, Inflated Job Placement Rates
Sullivan & Cogliano to Change its Advertising and Recruiting Practices
PLYMOUTH – A Brockton-based for-profit school must reimburse students $425,000 and change its advertising practices following allegations that it misrepresented job placement numbers and made other misleading statements about its medical field training programs, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.
The consent judgment with Sullivan and Cogliano Training Centers, Inc. (S&C) resolves AG Coakley’s lawsuit filed in April.
“We allege this for-profit school misrepresented job placement numbers and used misleading ads to solicit students, ultimately leaving graduates with large amounts of debt,” AG Coakley said. “We are pleased that this settlement will provide restitution to help students. We are continuing our investigation into the for-profit school industry to protect students and help ensure they are getting the benefits they are paying for.”
The consent judgment, entered Tuesday in Plymouth County Superior Court, requires S&C to:
- pay $425,000 in loan relief for harmed students;
- shut down its Medical Office Assistant and Office Professional-Medical Concentration programs in Massachusetts;
- identify the actual minimum course completion times in its advertising;
- charge students as part of tuition or fees no more than what vendors, such as the National Center for Competency Testing or Certiport, actually charge for certification tests that are a part of S&C courses;
- disclose publicly that S&C teachers primarily do not teach: “Students work individually at their own pace on a computer. School instructors are available to answer questions.”
- remove positions from its job placement figures at fast food, big box, and similar non-office jobs;
- make internships available, as promised by S&C, in the field of study to students whose courses require internships.
According to the complaint filed in April, S&C told prospective students interested in training to work in a medical office that virtually all students would achieve jobs in that field when, in fact, it was counting jobs in fast food and big box stores toward its placement percentages. While S&C allegedly promoted in statements and recruitment material that between 70 and 100 percent of graduates received jobs in a medical office, the AG’s investigation found that, in reality, less than 25 percent of graduates found that type of work.
S&C also allegedly misled students by using the title “Medical Assistant” in promotional materials, when the school never offered such a curriculum. School advertisements featured women wearing medical scrubs and holding stethoscopes and medical charts, but the school never offered that type of clinical instruction.
S&C cooperated with the AG’s Office to resolve the issues raised by the Attorney General’s lawsuit.
AG Coakley has been conducting a comprehensive investigation into the for-profit school industry and implemented an extensive education campaign for students. AG Coakley has significant concerns about the industry’s business model in Massachusetts and across the country as for-profit schools are expensive and heavily funded through federal student loans.
In April, AG Coakley launched Eliminate Deceptive Education Business Tactics (D.E.B.T.), a consumer protection campaign with free educational trainings across the state and a new website offering resources for consumers related to for-profit schools. In March, AG Coakley signaled her support for proposed federal legislation which would stop for-profit schools from spending taxpayer money on marketing. In June 2012, AG Coakley obtained $225,000 for the state in a multistate settlement with QuinStreet which resulted in the deceptive for-profit marketing website GIBill.com being taken down and handed over to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
This matter is part of the for-profit school investigative initiative in the Public Protection and Advocacy Bureau of the Attorney General’s Office. The case was handled by Assistant Attorney General Peter Leight, Assistant Attorney General Jenny Wojewoda, Division Chief Glenn Kaplan, Mathematician Burt Feinberg and Legal Analyst Diana Hooley, with assistance from Legal Analyst Jennifer Snow, all of the Attorney General’s Insurance & Financial Services Division.