Attorney General William Tong tsought a court order forcing Stone Academy’s owners to comply with the state’s ongoing investigation into potential violations of the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act by Stone Academy.
On March 15, Attorney General Tong served Joseph Bierbaum and Richard Scheinberg with civil investigative demands seeking detailed information regarding their financial and legal interests and duties and responsibilities at Stone Academy and other for-profit education entities in Connecticut. The demand also sought information regarding where Stone Academy records are stored, as well as payroll, staffing, enrollment and attendance records. The investigative demand further sought answers from both Bierbaum and Scheinberg as to efforts they made to ensure Stone’s compliance with Connecticut Law, including their awareness or involvement in efforts to allow non-clinical assignments to count toward clinical instruction hours at Stone, efforts to ensure adequate student faculty ratios, efforts to ensure the accuracy of student transcripts, among other questions.
Bierbaum and Scheinberg failed to respond to or even acknowledge the demand by a March 29 deadline. As a result, Attorney General Tong today sought a court order forcing compliance with the CID.
“Stone took in millions of dollars in tuition from students who spent countless hours away from their families and jobs to become nurses and advance their careers. Stone utterly failed them. What has happened to these students is a tragedy and I am beyond outraged on their behalf. We are bringing everything we’ve got to this investigation, and we are going to get to the bottom of this. If our office finds any wrongdoing, I will not hesitate to hold those responsible to the fullest extent of the law,” said Attorney General Tong.
Attorney General Tong first launched the investigation on February 23, after the nursing school abruptly closed its doors leaving students’ education plans in limbo. Attorney General Tong sent initial civil investigative demands to Stone Academy demanding detailed information and records regarding the education provided to and tuition collected from each student, the schools’ marketing practices, faculty qualifications, revenues, and accreditation materials, as well as all complaints received by the school. The demand to Stone also sought information regarding how and when the school decided to close and how that decision was communicated to students. The demand further sought detailed information as to how the school intends to reimburse students for tuition and costs, how it intends to assist students in continuing their education, and how it intends to inform students of their rights and options following the school closure.
Stone responded to the demand. The Office of the Attorney General is reviewing those records, and has conducted numerous interviews with Stone students and others connected with the school with relevant information.
Attorney General Tong today sent a letter to Stone’s attorneys identifying several specific areas where the school’s responses appear to be incomplete or missing information. The Office of the Attorney General is demanding full and complete responses.
The for-profit nursing school abruptly closed its campuses in East Hartford, Waterbury and West Haven on February 15 following serious concerns regarding National Council Licensure Examination rates, faculty qualifications, and clinical training.
The Office of Higher Education, Department of Public Health and the U.S. Department of Education are all working to assist students in obtaining transcripts, tuition refunds, loan discharges, adjustments to veteran’s benefits, as well as providing support for students attempting to continue their education at other schools.
Stone had initially agreed to pay for and cooperate with an audit of its student records in order to enable students to continue with their education and begin their careers. Stone has since reneged. The state has agreed to pay for that audit, which is now underway.
If you are a Stone Academy student in need of assistance, or a Stone Academy employee with information relevant to this investigation, please provide information via the Office of the Attorney General’s online portal.
Students may also wish to contact the Office of Higher Education for assistance and guidance regarding their educational options via 860-947-1816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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