Business School Was a Rip, 37 Students Say

     ATLANTIC CITY, N.J. (CN) - Thirty-seven students say the Premier Education Group, which runs schools around the country, lied to them about its accreditation, lied about its graduates' eligibility to be certified as medical assistants, and routinely changed grades, gave them test answers and marked absent students as present so the school could "continue to receive government funds on behalf of each student."
     Tuition for the program was $12,000, according to the complaint in Atlantic County Court.
     The students sued the Premier Education Group dba Harris School of Business of Linwood and 11 of its administrators and teachers.
     "Premier Education Group owns and operates multiple business schools in several states in addition to the Harris School of Business," the complaint states. It bought the Harris School of Business in 2004; the school has campuses in Cherry Hill, Linwood, and Trenton, N.J., and Wilmington, Del., according to the complaint.
     The students say the school "did not possess accreditation" that would permit them to take the Certified Medical Assistant Examination, and "implicitly represented that the school was accredited."
     According to the 22-page complaint, the for-profit school told them that after completing its Professional Medical Assistant Program, they "would be eligible to take the Certified Medical Assistant Examination (CMA) as given by the American Association of Medical Assistants."
     The students say the school went to great lengths to make it appear that it was qualified to prepare them for the test, including scheduling a review class for the CMA exam as part of its curriculum, using textbooks with CMA language and even telling that "the CMA examination would be administered at the Harris School of Business."
     It was only after the students mailed in their applications, prepared by the school, to the AAMA, along with the required fee, that they say they were told they could not take the test because of the school's lack of certification.
     The students say the school's Medical Assistant Program is "a full-time program that takes approximately ten months to complete and includes an externship." Many of the students say the school received tuition on their behalf "from government funds," including state and federal grants and loans.
     Many say their credit ratings have been hurt by lenders who demand repayment for their debts.
     The students say the environment at the school was dysfunctional, that "classes were combined together when teachers quit or were fired" and that "classes were routinely started without available textbooks."
     They say instructors "routinely gave to students the answers to test questions before the test" and "cheating on exams was known and encouraged."
     They seek damages for fraud, bad faith, negligent misrepresentation, and unjust enrichment.
     They are represented by David Sinderbrand of Northfield, N.J.