Division of Professional Licensure Levies Record Monetary Settlement Against The Salter School
$150,000 settlement is largest ever agreed to in a disciplinary action
Boston, MA (October 6, 2016) – The Division of Professional Licensure (DPL) today announced disciplinary action against Premier Education Group LP (Premier), doing business as The Salter School, which includes a record settlement of $150,000. The disciplinary agreement resolves allegations that the school engaged in misleading actions and employed unapproved instructors at its Massachusetts locations.
“This agreement demonstrates DPL’s strong commitment to ensuring that private occupational schools operating in Massachusetts are not only following the law, but are also providing their students with a quality educational experience,” said Charles Borstel, Director of DPL. “As the licensing authority and primary oversight agency for these schools, DPL will not hesitate to take action when we believe that a violation has occurred.”
Following reports that Premier may have engaged in actions violating state laws governing occupational schools, DPL’s investigation uncovered evidence that Premier may have published misleading graduate job placement statistics, employed instructors whose qualifications had not been approved by DPL, and used misleading and high-pressure tactics in recruiting new students.
Premier denied any wrongdoing or liability, but agreed to the record $150,000 settlement and a two-year stayed suspension of the licenses for its four Massachusetts locations.
During the stayed suspension, Premier may continue to operate at its locations as long as no additional violations are discovered. Under the agreement, the two year suspension of the school’s licenses was stayed to allow students currently enrolled with the school to continue their courses of study. Premier also agreed not to enroll new students at its Tewksbury location for a period of six months.
The school will also be required to report all student complaints and school responses to those complaints to DPL within 30 days of a complaint being filed for the next two years; to file semi-annual reports with DPL detailing the number of new students enrolled, completing, and leaving each program for each completed quarter, semester, or term; and to file monthly reports detailing the use of any substitute instructors employed for 10 or more days during the prior month, as well as information related to the courses for which they are employed, the names of the regular instructors for those courses, and course schedules.
The school also agreed to take several actions to clarify how it calculates job placement statistics and to provide more information about the school and its programs to the public. These actions include: updating its job placement rate disclosure to reflect that self-employed students are counted in the calculation of job placement statistics; updating its massage therapy program materials to clarify that only individuals licensed by the Board of Registration of Massage Therapy may provide massage therapy services in Massachusetts, and that only licensed graduates may be counted in the massage therapy program job placement statistics; and posting publicly-accessible electronic copies of any annual reports submitted by the school to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools. The school also agreed to cease using the admissions training manual in use at the time of its alleged actions and to provide DPL with a copy of any new or revised admissions training manual.
The Salter School, a subsidiary of Premier Education Group LP, offers training programs to prepare individuals for careers as medical assistants, health claims specialists, and licensed massage therapists. The school operates four locations in Massachusetts, including Fall River, Malden, New Bedford, and Tewksbury.
The Office of Private Occupational School Education is an office within DPL that is responsible for the licensing and oversight of private occupational schools and their sales representatives. In general, private occupational schools are organizations that offer courses for the purpose of training or preparing individuals for a business, trade, technical or industrial occupation, or any other vocational purpose. The Office is supported by a 12 member Advisory Council, consisting of representatives from licensed schools, consumer advocates, and related state agencies. Oversight of private occupational schools and their sales representatives was transferred to DPL in August 2012 from the Department of Elementary and Secondary Education. Currently there are 155 occupational schools licensed to operate at more than 200 locations in Massachusetts.
The Division of Professional Licensure is a regulatory agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation, responsible for ensuring regulatory compliance and the integrity of the licensing process for more than 387,000 licensees in trades and professions under the jurisdiction of 28 boards of registration and the Office of Private Occupational School Education. For more information, or to file a complaint against a private occupational school, visit www.mass.gov/dpl/schools. Follow DPL on Twitter @Mass Consumer.
The Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation is committed to protecting consumers through consumer advocacy and education, and also works to ensure that the businesses its agencies regulate treat all Massachusetts consumers fairly. Follow the office at its blog, on Facebook, and on Twitter @Mass Consumer.
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