Texas moves to revoke licenses for ATI career schools



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Posted on July 27, 2011 at 9:52 PM

Updated Monday, Aug 1 at 9:30 AM

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One of the largest trade schools in Texas is on its way to being shut down in the wake of a News 8 investigation.

The move would effectively put ATI Career Training Centers — a company once valued at $400 million — out of business.

ATI's shortcomings came to public attention after a series of News 8 investigative reports.

The Texas Workforce Commission said Wednesday that ATI must stop enrolling new students. The company owns 16 campuses in Texas that provide training to thousands of students.

In announcing its intent to pull ATI's right to stay in business, the TWC cited the same problems News 8 has found among ATI students and records.

"ATI is a fluke. ATI is a joke. ATI is lying to people," said former student William Wise.

"I got shammed," added Craig Russell, another ATI student. "You're liars."

And that's what the State of Texas concluded after looking at ATI records and checking the school's job placement rates.

News 8 found that ATI never placed students at businesses like Paradise Landscape or Allied Health Care, as its records claimed.

A third-party review for the state found ATI failed to place 60 percent of its graduates, like Kelvin Price, who spent $18,000 on tuition and ended up selling car polish.

"Schools that misreport employment information about their programs potentially exploit vulnerable individuals with false hopes," said TWC chairman Tom Pauken.

In Dallas, ATI student James Butler still has six months to go before he finishes his ATI HVAC class. He said he is concerned about the TWC decession.

"That's crazy. That's mind blowing," said Butler.

The state says ATI must arrange for all of its current students to complete their studies at ATI or a comparable school at no additional cost to them.

It was not clear whether ATI will appeal this decision; the school was not available for comment.

E-mail bharris@wfaa.com