Fired Prof Calls Drama School Bogus

     LOS ANGELES (CN) – A former professor claims in court that the American Musical and Dramatic Academy fired him for complaining that the college lied to students to enroll them and keep them enrolled.
     Daniel Fishbach sued AMDA Inc. in Superior Court, alleging harassment, discrimination, retaliation and wrongful firing.
     AMDA is the only defendant, though plenty of names are mentioned in the complaint.
     Among Fishbach’s complaints are that the college retaliated when he complained that it hired a professor’s unqualified boyfriend for a top-level job.
     Fishbach claims in the complaint that AMDA hired Scott Connors to oversee its musical theater program because Connors was the boyfriend of its Musical Theater chairman.
     “During the October 2011-February 2012 fall quarter, Mr. Fishbach learned that Mr. Connors had been hired by AMDA not because of his (nonexistent) qualifications for the position but because he was engaged in a sexual relationship with AMDA’s Chair of Musical Theatre Michael Sartor. Mr. Fishbach complained of this act of sexual favoritism to AMDA,” the complaint states. (Parentheses in complaint.)
     Fishbach claims that he also complained to AMDA that it was gouging students for tuition, misrepresenting its accreditation, and falsely promising that students could “easily” transfer class credits to other colleges.
     “In reality, many students’ applications to transfer their credits to other schools were rejected due to AMDA’s lack of proper accreditation,” the complaint states. “AMDA was accredited by the National Association of Schools of Theatre, a relatively minor accrediting institution, as opposed to a major accreditation institution such as the Western Association of Schools & Colleges. One AMDA student even threatened to sue the school upon finding out that none of the classes she took and paid for at AMDA were credit-transferrable. This student was given a full refund only after she agreed to sign a nondisclosure agreement to prevent other students from learning of AMDA’s predatory and deceptive practices. Notwithstanding AMDA’s best efforts to hide its misconduct, however, the school garnered a reputation for these fraudulent and predatory practices, earning the widely used nickname ‘SCAMDA’ among both staff and students.”
     Fishbach claims that AMDA “has not provided many of its students with the promised ‘legendary’ training or given them guidance and support in their careers and instead employs policies that maximize its profits to its students’ detriment. Among other things, AMDA effectively has no admission standards for incoming students – practically anyone who applies is admitted into ‘America’s premier college of the performing arts.’ To ensure that students remain enrolled and continue paying tuition, AMDA expressly forbids students from auditioning for outside entertainment opportunities until their last semester of training at the institution,” the complaint states.
     Fishbach says he let his students vent about AMDA’s policies during a class in early February 2012. Though he listened to them, Fishbach says, he “went out of his way to support AMDA and portray the school in the best light possible, notwithstanding the students’ grievances.”
     Soon afterward, Fishbach says, he checked the faculty schedules for the spring semester and “discovered that he was no longer listed as the teacher for his musical theater history class, which he had developed for AMDA from the ground up three years prior
     A few days after that, AMDA’s director of operations Dan DeShurley summoned Fishbach to a meeting, where he falsely accused Fishbach of using the term “SCAMDA” and badmouthing the college, the complaint states.
     Fishbach claims DeShurley fired him a week later by email.
     “Outraged by AMDA’s attempt to silence him and the school’s students, Mr. Fishbach immediately posted news about his termination on his Facebook page to seek the support his students and faculty and to try to save his job,” the complaint states.
     Fishbach seeks punitive damages and lost wages and benefits.
     He is represented by Keith A. Fink with Fink & Steinberg.
     AMDA, a nonprofit college, was founded in Manhattan in 1964 by Philip H. Burton, adoptive father of Richard Burton, according to its website. David and Jan Martin took over as directors in the 1970s and opened the college’s Los Angeles campus in the Vine Tower Building in 2003, according to the AMDA website.

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