HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Connecticut Attorney General William Tong vowed on Thursday to take action against the leaders of Stone Academy after the health career schools announced their abrupt closures.
“We’re focused on it, and we’re going to hold them accountable,” Tong said.
More than 800 students have been left scrambling after hearing that classes would abruptly stop this week.
“People really got cheated here, frankly, and we’re talking about nursing students,” Tong said. “It would be hard to identify a group of workers who are more important right now, as we are still trying to come out of a pandemic.”
The Stone Academy locations had low pass rates, unqualified instructors, “invalid” clinical experience opportunities and didn’t adequately record student attendance, according to a letter released Tuesday from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.
Stone Academy told the state on Feb. 6 that it would close its three locations in East Hartford, Waterbury and West Haven, according to the letter. About 800 students were collectively attending the three locations.
All classes and instructions will be discontinued at Connecticut’s three Stone Academy locations on Thursday according to school officials.
Representatives from Porter and Chester Institute will be coming to the Stone Academy campus to conduct expedited recruitment efforts for faculty and staff to discuss potential employment options.
School officials said between Feb. 20 – 24, Stone Academy will remain open administratively to help current students with their next steps. Employees will aid students in securing their records and transcripts. Employees will also provide guidance to students interested in transferring schools.
Porter & Chester Institute was identified as Stone Academy’s primary “teach-out” partner. Porter & Chester Institute Employees will provide resources and support to the Stone Academy community to the best of their ability.
The schools weren’t reaching the required testing threshold to remain open as a private career school, according to the state. Practical nursing programs are required to have a pass rate of 80% on the National Council Licensure Examination. Instead, pass rates ranged from 43% to 70%.
The state letter also claims that 20% of Stone Academy’s instructors were not qualified to teach practical nursing. The school also had “invalid clinical experiences” in its “campus clinicals,” which were being counted toward clinical hours required to complete nursing programs. Campus clinicals are not allowed to be counted towards those hours.
The school also did not properly count attendance, according to the letter.
While Stone Academy is accredited, its accreditation body gave the schools a letter on Feb. 10 outlining 12 “very significant compliance issues,” according to the state.
Students said they were caught off guard by the news.
“It’s like waking up from a bad dream,” said Angela Ford, who started classes to become a medical assistant last month.
Ford took out a loan to help with the costs, all on top of possible wasted time.
“I lost a lot of nights sleeping, studying, doing homework, buying sticky notes, only to find out we did it for nothing,” she said.
Students can fill out an online survey to receive help.
Current Connecticut Stone Academy students may click here, for acceptance at a Porter & Chester Institute here. Students must indicate that they are Stone Academy students.