HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — The president of Stone Academy testified under oath in court on Monday about the school’s abrupt closure.
The hearing sought to prevent Stone Academy from selling off any of its assets.
The hearing stems from a lawsuit filed by the state in July against Stone Academy, Paier College of Art and its owner, Joseph Bierbaum, that alleged multiple violations under the Connecticut Unfair Trade Practices Act.
Bierbaum owned 25% of the school, with a family trust owning the remaining 75%. That trust was created when Bierbaum’s stepfather, Mark Scheinberg, when Scheinberg had to step down while under federal investigation for student loan repayments.
Stone Academy abruptly closed three campuses in East Hartford, Waterbury and West Haven in February, leaving more than 800 students in limbo. The decision to close was not Bierbaum’s or the school’s trustees, he said Monday.
In response to being asked who told him to close, he answered, “The attorney general’s office on February 10th.”
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong’s office said in a written statement that the decision to close was the school’s.
“Stone is the bad actor here, and it is Stone and its ownership and management who engaged in what clearly is a long-running course of misconduct,” the statement reads. “Stone unilaterally shut down and stranded its students and graduates. There are no alternative facts here.”
The three locations had low pass rates, unqualified instructors, “invalid” clinical experience opportunities, and didn’t adequately record student attendance, according to a letter released Feb. 14 from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.