FRANKFORT, Ky. – Attorney General Jack Conway took another for-profit college to court on Tuesday, alleging a violation of Kentucky’s consumer protection laws by making deceptive claims about job placement successes.
The lawsuit claims that National College of Kentucky, which has campuses in Danville, Florence, Lexington, Louisville, Pikeville and Richmond, has misrepresented the number of students placed into jobs to make itself more appealing to would-be students.
“This type of deception has to stop,” Conway said in a Capitol press conference Tuesday afternoon. “National has to stop putting its bottom line ahead of the hopes and dreams of students who simply are trying to better their lives.”
Albert F. Grasch Jr., a Lexington attorney representing National College, was traveling Tuesday and did not immediately return a telephone call seeking comment.
National College, which has about 5,000 students enrolled on its Kentucky campuses, asked a judge in January to halt the attorney general’s investigation that preceded the lawsuit, saying the probe wasn’t supported by sufficient evidence of wrongdoing.
In the lawsuit filed in Fayette County circuit court, Conway and his staff attorneys accused National College of making false, misleading and deceptive claims about the percentage of students who were able to get jobs in their fields of study or in related fields.
Conway said National College has produced promotional material suggesting that most Kentucky campuses place more than 90 percent of graduates in jobs they were trained for through last year. But Conway said they gave drastically lower figures, ranging from 60 to 79 percent, to the Accrediting Council for Independent Colleges and Schools.
“The bottom line is we have more and more students who are leaving for-profit schools with high debt loads and without the better jobs they were promised,” Conway said.
Conway said he is asking that National College pay civil penalties of $2,000 per violation of the state’s consumer protection law, plus the expense of the investigation and legal fees.
Conway has been pushing in recent months to hold for-profit colleges accountable.
In July, Conway filed suit against Daymar College over allegations that it had misled students into buying overpriced textbooks. And in August, Conway’s office filed a motion to intervene in a whistle-blower suit against Education Management Corporation, the parent company of Brown Mackie College, over allegations that the company illegally paid recruiters based on the number of students they enrolled.