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Students Sue Ohio College That Lost Accreditation

TOLEDO, Ohio – Nursing students say their reputations have been damaged and their degrees tainted by a community college that lost accreditation for its nursing program.

 Three lawsuits involving nearly 90 students have been filed against Owens Community College. The school, with campuses in Toledo and Findlay, lost its nursing accreditation this summer after being warned about problems two years ago.

 The National League for Nursing Accrediting Commission put the college’s program on probation in 2007 because not enough faculty held master’s degrees in nursing.The nursing students feel the college misrepresented itself as having an accredited program when it was in trouble and that school leaders kept students in the dark, said attorney Rex Elliott, who is representing several students.

 “These are all students who attended Owens College believing it was accredited,” Elliott said. “If they had said to the world, ‘Here’s what we have, we have a nursing program but it’s on probation and we may lose accreditation,’ no one would have come to their college.

 What’s worse is that everyone now knows about the trouble, he said. “The reputation of the degree has been significantly watered down,” Elliot said. Owens Community College has been one of the fastest-growing schools in the state. Its two campuses have about 45,000 students annually, including those who are part-time and those who are taking continuing education classes.

 School spokesman Brad Meyer would not comment on the lawsuit.The school’s nursing department chairwoman has been placed on paid administrative leave, and college president Dr. Christa Adams announced Tuesday that she will retire Jan. 1 instead of at the end of 2010 as originally announced.

 She made no mention of the accreditation issue in announcing her decision.The students said the school’s change in status could make it difficult to transfer to a bachelor’s degree program. Dr. Renay Scott, vice provost for the college, said the college has hosted a meeting to help students connect with universities about pursuing bachelor’s degrees in nursing.

 Owens also is reapplying for accreditation and plans to submit the paperwork in the spring, she said.

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