A lawsuit was filed against ITT Tech, by former dean of academic affairs, Rodney Lipscomb. Lipscomb claimed that he was fired from the for-profit college, after continually voicing concerns about the fraudulent practices he was seeing regarding the admission of students. He alleged that students who couldn’t write understandable sentences were still enrolled at the school, so they could receive the financial aid money. He also stated that the school enrolled a blind student in a class where students had to identify colors and codes by sight.
At the moment, many other for-profit colleges are facing additional investigations, especially since Corinthian Colleges closed after allegedly recruiting students with false graduation and job placement rates. Most students are unable to file lawsuits against these colleges, because when they enroll, they are forced to sign agreements prohibiting them from suing the college in a class action lawsuit. David Halpern, a lawyer and advocate who works on for-profit college issues, states that the only way around this agreement is to file a whistleblower suit.
According to this suit against ITT Tech, most students at the Florida campus location, took out student loans and had difficulty completing their course program. They either dropped out of the programs or weren’t successful in finding jobs that they wanted. The suit also alleges that on campus recruiters were encouraged by their director, as well the college director and others, to encourage students to enroll, so they could overcome all of the difficulties they were having in life.
Lipscomb also accused the school of giving the students the wrong information about their programs. An example he used was that students taking the criminal justice program were told that they could have positions as forensic scientists like the ones on “CSI Miami” when they successfully completed the course. Unfortunately the program does not offer the science training that is needed for this type of position.
Recruiters allegedly had weekly meetings to go over potential students and how they could get them to enroll. They would allegedly help the students fill out financial aid forms and tell them how to secure more financial aid.
David Halperin states “it’s like a greatest hits of abuses by for-profit colleges, if it is true.” This suit comes years after a Senate committee investigation about similar practices at for-profit colleges.
Nicole Elam, a spokesperson for ITT, states that they do not comment on ongoing lawsuits. She did note in an email that the Justice Department has closed an inquiry about this matter and that “the company denies the allegations and intends to vigorously defend itself.”
Lawsuits that are brought by whistleblowers are done because they believe the company is violating the false claims act. A suit filed under the false claims act is actually being filed by a plaintiff on behalf of the government. The government can then choose whether or not to join the suit. Once the government decides on their involvement in the case, the claim is unsealed. The government does not join many of these lawsuits, which was the case for Lipscomb’s case. The Department of Education has declined to comment and the Justice Department did not return any emails.
Lipscomb currently isn’t sure if he is going to go forward with the lawsuit, but will continue to cooperate with the government as well as the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau.
If you have questions or comments, please chat in the comments below or on the ChallengeStudentDebt Twitter handle.
If you feel you were defrauded by the school you attended or you are being treated poorly as a distressed borrower by your creditors, take the free challenge debt review to find out what options you have regarding your student loans.