Updated: 07/22/2014 6:19 PM
Created: 07/22/2014 12:03 PM KSTP.com
By: Megan Matthews
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a lawsuit Tuesday against two colleges in Minnesota accused of misrepresenting job opportunities for students.
Minnesota School of Business and Globe University, which are state corporations under common ownership, allegedly exaggerate job outlooks for criminal justice graduates and mislead students about the transferability of their credits to other colleges, according to Swanson.
She says some students, who enrolled at the schools, are now dealing with tens of thousands of dollars of debt and have no way to obtain jobs in their chosen career fields.
“Going to college has long been a way for people to try to make a better life for themselves,” Swanson said. “The schools exploited this dream for some students.”
The schools recommend their criminal justice associate and bachelor’s degrees to students who want to become police officers. The programs cost $35,100 and $70,200 respectively. The problem, according to Swanson, is that it’s impossible for students to become a police officer in Minnesota without obtaining a degree from another certified institution.
Under Minnesota law, students must attend accredited institutions and offer a Professional Peace Officer Education program approved by the Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training (“POST”) Board.
"It isn't right for students whose goal is to protect and defend the public as police officers to be sold a degree that doesn't even allow them to become a police officer in Minnesota," Swanson said.
The schools recommend their criminal justice associate's degree program to students who want to become probation officers. According to state records, probation officers must have at least a bachelor’s, if not master’s, degree.
Another problem pointed out in the lawsuit, the schools have told some students that their credits will transfer to other institutions, even though that isn’t the case. The Minnesota School of Business and Globe University are nationally accredited, but most public and non-profit colleges and universities are regionally accredited. That means they generally don’t accept any or most of the credits.
Swanson filed the lawsuit in Hennepin County District Court. It seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties and restitution.
The schools have been sued before for similar conduct. In 1986, a group of former students sued Minnesota School of Business. It was owned by ITT Educational Services at that time. Another group of students sued the school in 1997, and in 2012, two former employees filed separate lawsuits. All of the lawsuits accused the school of misrepresenting programs.
Globe University and Minnesota School of Business responded, calling the lawsuit "unnecessary enforcement action by the Minnesota Attorney General." In a statement, the school says they made "several attempts to meet and address any concerns" the Attorney General had, but their "repeated requests have been ignored."
The school's statement continues, "The claims that our admissions practices and credit transfer policies are deceptive could not be further from the truth. It disappoints us that even one student has something unfavorable to say about our colleges and we have an internal resolution process to give students the opportunity to address their concerns."
The schools also say "our admissions representatives state that our criminal justice program does not fulfill Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements needed to become a police officer."