TWC ruling halts authorization of ATI to run schools in Texas



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Posted on July 28, 2011 at 10:06 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 1 at 9:28 AM

DALLAS - For-profit school ATI will no longer be authorized to operate a career school or college in the state of Texas.

The ruling is outlined from the Texas Workforce Commission, which regulates for-profit schools, to ATI's CEO Carli Strength.

In what may be a showdown, however, ATI is still recruiting new students. That's because the TWC ruling does not take effect for four more business days. 

Meanwhile, thousands of students already enrolled are asking what's next for them?

At ATI's home campus in North Richland Hills Thursday, it was business as usual, with no mention of ATI's closure order.

"They're still not saying anything," said student Tiffany Kahrs, at a fast food restaurant near ATI's main campus in North Richland Hills. She and two classmates have been in a medical assistant program at ATI for the last seven months.

"It's very concerning," said student Kimberly Campbell. "I am wanting to go on and be an RN and specialize in pediatric, and I need to find a job."

ATI has 16 campuses across Texas under three different brands. There are nine branches of ATI, six South Texas Vocational Technical schools in the Valley and San Antonio and the Dallas Nursing Institute.

The state says ATI has an estimated 8,600 (based on recent reports) students across Texas, making it the largest enforcement action against a for-profit school in U.S. history.

The TWC requires that 60 percent of graduates get jobs, and students pay tens of thousands of dollars of tuition in the expectation that they will get them.

Students Marilyn Gutierrez and Kahrs both used federal loans and loans from their parents to pay their tuition.

Campbell, a single mom, is obligated to pay all her $18,000 in tuition herself. Each of the three drive at least 30 minutes to school each day and work a shift at a second job to make ends meet. 

All three are worried about what their employment chances are with ATI's reputation in question.

A third party audit by the state found ATI:

  • Did not properly verify how many students graduated
  • Did not thoroughly check to see how many graduates got jobs
  • Repeatedly overstated how many graduates did get jobs

The state says ATI must provide a way for students to finish their course work if they want to and those who don't want to finish and haven't completed 75 percent of their course work are entitled to a partial refund. Also, those who've enrolled and haven't started yet can get all their money back. New students also have a 72 hour period in which to waive their contracts.

The TWC has established a hotline to answer questions and can be reached by calling 1-866-256-6333.