It was just over a week ago when Stone Academy announced it would be closing all three campuses across the state after more than 150 years of operation and Attorney General William Tong said Thursday that his office is starting a formal investigation into the nursing school under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
After announcing the closure, a Stone Academy spokesperson said the campuses would be closing before students could complete their training and the academy was working with the state's Office of Higher Education to make arrangements to allow students to complete their training.
Stone Academy has locations in East Hartford, Waterbury and West Haven and the school stopped classes last Wednesday.
Tong said this affects more than 900 students and families and a subpoena has been issued.
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His office has received more than complaints from students and faculty.
The attorney general said he sent a civil investigative demand to Stone Academy demanding information and records about 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.
He is also asking for information on how and when the school decided to close and how that decision was communicated to students.
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Tong has requested information on how the school intends to reimburse students for tuition and costs, assist students in continuing their education and how it intends to inform students of their rights and options.
Stone Academy has been given until March 10 to respond.
Office of Higher Education officials said there were various concerns and challenges facing the academy, which resulted in the closures.
Officials said they have concerns with the academy's National Council Licensure Examination (NCLEX) pass rates. The exam pass rates for 2022 at all three campuses were far below the required 80% pass rate.
It was also determined that nearly 20% of instructors at the academy were not qualified to teach in the practical nursing program.
“For many months, our office has been working with the school to address a number of serious compliance issues that included unqualified faculty, invalid student clinical experiences and recording attendance," said Timothy D. Larson, executive director of the Office of Higher Education.
The Office of Higher Education is the state agency that has regulatory oversight over private career schools in the state and said there will be a third-party audit to assess the credibility of each student’s record.
The academy said it would make arrangements to ensure all student records will be transferred to OHE for future access.
Students will either be able to continue their training at another institution or discontinue training.
“I put a lot of my future into this, and then we just get an email saying that it’s done,” said Stone Academy student Robert Hensley.
“If you actually weren’t in this program and doing this and feeling the door shut on you, you really can’t grab that emotion,” said Stone Academy student Shai Ralph.
“They didn’t give us our transcripts because they haven’t gone through them, so what’s the point of us talking to these schools,” Ralph said. “We don’t have all the information we need to actually have an accurate understanding of what they’re going to tell us.”
“Those sleepless nights. I couldn’t cook for my husband, I couldn’t do stuff. I couldn’t go with my family,” said Stone Academy student Barbara Shaw.
The Office of Higher Education is going to have information sessions on March 2 for students displaced by Stone Academy's closing. Registration is required. Learn more about those sessions here.
Officials said other career schools, the community college system, the National Guard and the state and federal Departments of Education will be there to provide displaced students with information on transferring schools, loan discharge, tuition refunds and more.
Stone Academy students in need of assistance or Stone Academy employees with information relevant to this investigation are asked to file a complaint through the Office of the Attorney General’s online portal.
Students could also contact the Office of Higher Education for assistance and guidance at 860-947-1816 or firstname.lastname@example.org.