Bogus! Texas Tells Houston ‘Diploma Mill’

     HOUSTON (CN) – An online high school in Houston took $2.1 million by selling worthless diplomas to 42,000 victims, the Texas attorney general claims in court.
     Texas pulls no punches in the April 20 lawsuit against Parkview Home School. It also calls itself Parkview High School, Parkview Baptist High School and Parkview Baptist School, though it has no connection “of any kind” with a Baptist church, the attorney general says.
     In fact, Texas claims: “Parkview is not a school,” but a “diploma mill” that “does not grade or even review” students’ work before selling them worthless diplomas for $200 to $300 apiece.
     Parkview falsely advertises itself as “Texas state-approved” and “nationally accredited” and lies that its diplomas are accepted by colleges, universities, the military and police academies, Attorney General Ken Paxton says in the lawsuit in Harris County Court.
     Business is good. In the past four years “defendants have obtained approximately $2.1 million from Texas consumers through the Parkview business,” according to the complaint.
     A Parkview employee told Courthouse News on Tuesday that the state’s attorneys “don’t play fair” and “don’t know what they are doing.”
     Parkview sells two types of bogus diplomas, the state says, through an Adult Program and a Credit Transfer Program.
     For the Adult Program people 19 and older pay Parkview $250 and must buy two study guides. Parkview tells enrollees to answer test questions from the study guides, making sure to use keys to verify their responses are correct before turning them in.
     “Upon return of the study guides to Parkview, Parkview does not grade or even review the student’s work but simply issues the ‘student,’ a ‘Diploma of Graduation’ from ‘Parkview Baptist High School,'” the complaint states.
     “The whole process can be completed within one to two days.”
     Parkview’s Credit Transfer Program is for students of any age who have 22 high school credits. Parkview automatically issues a diploma to anyone who pays the $245 fee.
     “The whole process to obtain a Parkview diploma through the Credit Transfer Program can be completed in less than 15 minutes,” the lawsuit states.
     Texas says Parkview falsely calls itself a home school and coaches graduates to claim they were home-schooled on their federal financial aid applications.
     The designation makes no sense, the attorney general says.
     “Since the majority of Parkview’s ‘graduates’ are adults who paid a fee for one of Parkview’s adult programs, by law they are not home-schooled students and cannot be graduates of a ‘home school,'” the complaint states.
     A Parkview employee told Courthouse News on Tuesday that it has hired Sugar Land attorney Tom Sanders to fight the lawsuit.
     “Right now he’s out of town but he’ll be in tomorrow. He’s the one who is going to rip up those attorney generals because they don’t know what they are doing. They’re good attorneys but they don’t know anything about education, and they don’t play fair,” the unidentified employee said, before brusquely hanging up the phone.
     Parkview’s official response to the lawsuit is also defiant.
     “The Texas Attorney General has falsely accused Parkview of selling fraudulent diplomas with little to no work,” Parkview said in a statement, urging graduates to show up at a 9:30 a.m. temporary injunction hearing on Wednesday at a downtown Houston courtroom.
     Texas asked for an injunction to stop Parkview from shredding records, transferring funds, accepting payment for any educational services and issuing any diplomas or transcripts.
     The state also seeks penalties up to $20,000 for each of Parkview’s alleged violations of the Deceptive Trade Practices Act.
     Other defendants include Chesson Family LP, Lilton Chesson Jr., Christian D. Chesson, Tara Rose Castellanos, Mindy Ray King and Legal Properties LLC.

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