HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Shortly after Stone Academy abruptly shut down in February, students who faced an uncertain future and financial distress protested at the East Hartford campus.
Now, state leaders are showing that those concerns have been heard and are being addressed.
“We know that some students paid as much as $30,000 — their life savings,” said Senate Deputy Majority Leader Derek Slap, (D-District 19). “Many of them are young women. Single mothers many of them.”
The three 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 Feb. 14 from the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.
“They weren’t properly credentialed by Stone Academy or they are in the middle of their program and they’re not able to continue,” Senate Minority Leader Kevin Kelly (R-District 21) said.
Connecticut Attorney General William Tong has vowed to investigate the school, demanding detailed information from Stone Academy, including what tuition was paid. However, he’s previously said the school has only partially complied.
Eight former Stone Academy students filed a class action lawsuit against the school last month seeking damages after they said the school failed to provide the education and training they paid for.
A newly proposed bipartisan aims to help graduates who need to take more clinical classes by giving them money for the cost of those classes, plus up to $1,000 stipend. Those who didn’t graduate could also be reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs by the Connecticut Office of Higher Education.
One nursing student who spoke to News8 off-camera was concerned she won’t get her money back.
“So, we want to get their dreams of becoming a nurse restarted,” Slap said.
The bill would also allow the state to go after Stone Academy.
“The real party that caused this problem was Stone Academy. and the state needs to be able to seek recourse against them,” Kelly said.
Tong said that it’s “important to hold these bad actors accountable.” He sent Stone Academy another letter on Thursday, and told News 8 that “Everything is on the table at this point,” including both criminal and civil charges.
News8 was unable to contact anyone at the school for comment.
The legislation heads to the appropriations committee on Friday. Lawmakers are hopeful it will be approved before the session ends next week.
Legislators said the bill will also help the state’s health care industry, which is in great need of more nurses.
The video below aired in our 6 p.m. newscast on June 1, 2023.