ATI to close all campuses in Texas

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by BYRON HARRIS

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WFAA

Posted on November 20, 2012 at 10:06 PM

Updated Tuesday, Nov 20 at 10:06 PM

DALLAS -- ATI’s campuses in Texas have been on a downward spiral for months, after a News 8 investigation three years ago, a Federal investigation, and a probe by the Texas Workforce Commission.

ATI announced it would be winding down its campuses weeks ago, but now it’s suddenly shutting all campuses immediately.

Tuesday, students arrived at the ATI North Richland Hills campus to find they were being bussed to a campus of Everest College, another for-profit school. They’ll be given a week to decide whether to finish out their course work.

While the State of Texas says the students have the option of asking for a refund, Nicole Birmingham, Jimoncanae Silas and Jeffrey Frame told News 8 they had no knowledge of that possibility. Each is paying $18,600 for a curriculum in Medical Assisting. Each was recruited by ATI well after the school was faltering. The students say they have received no paperwork outlining what the school is doing to them.

On Friday, dozens of ATI employees were told they’d been terminated, 45 days earlier than they expected.

“We don’t even have paychecks to support our families over the holidays,” Lorraine Dyson told News 8. “The managers are still employed, putting their hands in the cookie jar.”

Tina Mao also lost her job on Friday.

“I find it very hard that they weren’t paying out severances [to us,]” Mao said. “We also never got paid for our vacation time.”

The Texas Workforce Commission requires employers to warn workers of layoffs 60 days ahead of time. ATI is alleging it didn’t know it was going to go broke, the workers told us.

“It’s going to be three weeks before we can even get a one-time check for unemployment,” said Debbie Wallace, who worked at ATI for three years. “So, that’s three weeks with no money.”

ATI did not return phone calls.

The Texas Workforce Commission says it is working with ATI to smooth the transition.

ATI has appointed an ombudsman phone number to help students. When we called the number Tuesday, there was no answer.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com

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