HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Three Stone Academy nursing school locations that are closing 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 on Thursday, Feb. 16, according to the letter. About 800 students were collectively attending the three locations.
According to a letter students received from Stone Academy on Thursday, all classes and instructions will be discontinued on Thursday, Feb. 16.
School officials said the purpose of the decision is to allow representatives from Porter & Chester Institute to come onto campus to conduct expedited in-person recruitment efforts to determine potential employment options for faculty and staff.
In addition to the continuing efforts school officials said between Feb. 20 – 24, Stone Academy will remain open administratively.
According to school officials, they will be providing assistance to students to secure records, including transcripts, and provide guidance to students interested in transferring schools.
Porter & Chester Institute was identified as the primary “teach-out” partner and employees will provide resources or 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%.
“You’re paying almost $30,000 for an LPN license in the state of Connecticut,” Timothy Larson, the executive director of the Connecticut Office of Higher Education, told News 8. “You should be in front of a professor that’s qualified and in a school that is guaranteeing to the extend to they can, that you are prepared to take this NCLEX test.”
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.
The state found compliance issues during an inspection in July, and then in another visit in December. The state then gave the schools notice on Dec. 20 that it would hold a compliance conference meeting.
The state decided in January that it would make a full audit, which the school agreed to, according to the letter. However, the school did not come into compliance.
“Based on above, OHE is taking steps to have a clear understanding of where students stand in terms of their ability to graduate because of issues around students being taught by unqualified instructors and receiving invalid clinical experiences,” the state letter reads.
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 may be eligible for a partial tuition refund. They will also receive an official transcript for completed course work.
It’s something that has taken students by surprise.
“I sacrificed so much being in school, like having little kids and having to work, balance being a mom,” said Tynay King, who attended the school.
King said students were never told there were issues until they learned Stone Academy was closing.
“I feel like Stone needs to be held accountable for the time everybody put in to come to school, everybody showing up, everybody being on time, everybody doing their part,” she said. “We’re doing our part. We need you guys to do your part.”
Stone Academy students may click to apply for acceptance at Porter & Chester Institute here. Students must indicate that they are Stone Academy students, officials said.