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Call Kurtis Investigates: More Career College Students Told Their Class Location Was Unapproved

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A Call Kurtis investigation looks into viewers who took classes, but now can’t start their careers.  When they learned a career college’s courses were worthless in the eyes of the state, it was time to call Kurtis Ming.

The students paid thousands of dollars to Boston Reed for their Phlebotomy Tech program.  But they’ve now learned the location they took classes isn’t state approved.  If it sounds familiar, it’s because last year we caught this school doing the same thing.

“I used to love getting, like, going to the doctor, getting my blood taken,” said Alex Cisneros.

Weird, maybe, but Cisneros thought her interest in drawing blood could lead to a career.  She paid nearly $3,000 to attend Boston Reed’s Phlebotomy Technician program.

After acing the course, Cisneros applied to get her state certification, and was shocked when she was denied.

“When I heard that, I actually just started crying because I could not believe that this was happening to me,” said Cisneros.

The state said the location she attended, Vallejo Adult School, on Tennesee St. wasn’t an approved location.

“I’m here. I’m so far gone,” said Gwen Jackson, gesturing with her hand up to her head.

Jackson is also frustrated after taking classes at the same location.

“I think that we all should be given a letter of formal apology, number one,” said Jackson.

Their stories are almost identical to Trisha Stonecipher’s.   She was denied her certification after attending Boston Reed’s phlebotomy program last year at Sierra College, which at the time also wasn’t an approved location, but is now.

“Oh my god! I was so mad,” Stonecipher told us.

According to the state, since last year Boston Reed has offered phlebotomy courses at seven unapproved locations statewide.  And we’ve learned the California Department of Public Health, which approves locations can’t do anything about it because they tell CBS13:

“CDPH does not currently have such an enforcement mechanism, however, the department is currently in the process of drafting regulations for enforcement actions that may be taken against programs offering phlebotomy training that do not maintain the required standards.”

The CDPH also issued the following statements to CBS13:

Boston Reed has a current site that is approved at 1140 Capital St., Vallejo, California. The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) has not yet received official notification that the site is moving to 2833 Tennessee Street. CDPH received unofficial information by email on July 30, 2013, that the site was being relocated in October 2013 and an official submission would be forthcoming.

Each site must be approved by CDPH in order for any program to provide phlebotomy training that results in the applicant being certified.

Students will have to retake the course in an approved location in order to receive a valid certificate. An applicant can tell if a program is an approved program if it appears on CDPH’s online application website that lists the approved schools. Additionally, they can contact Laboratory Field Services (LFS) for information about whether a particular site is approved.

CDPH will allow the students 150 days from September 1, 2013, to complete the didactic training at an approved site if they have already submitted an application to CDPH to be certified as a phlebotomist from an unapproved site and their application is currently open.

CDPH has investigated Boston Reed for allowing training at didactic sites that were not approved. CDPH received an allegation of compliance from Boston Reed that they have made changes to management, controls and processes to correct previous missteps so that this does not happen in the future. CDPH has also informed Boston Reed that the students that they enrolled must repeat the didactic portion of the training at an approved didactic site in order for the students to be certified.

The California Department of Public Health (CDPH) is currently discussing with Boston Reed what students must do in order to complete their training. CDPH will accept the externship training the students took if it was conducted at a clinical laboratory that was Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments (CLIA) certified and state licensed, and the person responsible for the training meets state requirements.

-Corey Egel

Office of Public Affairs

California Department of Public Health (CDPH)

So why is this still going on?  The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education regulates schools like Boston Reed.

“If the school is promising that they can get their state certification, but they know that they have an unapproved location or something like that, it might become an enforcement matter for us,” said Bureau Spokesman, Russ Heimerich.

Our producer made the drive to Boston Reed’s Napa headquarters to get answers.  After being promised someone would come out to talk with her, no one ever did.  But they released a statement to CBS13:

The Vallejo Adult School, which has been approved for several years, operates from two addresses.  Unfortunately, due to a clerical error at Boston Reed, the records at LFS [CDPH Laboratory Field Services] had not been updated yet to reflect the new address, where Ms. Cisneros’ class was located.  We are working with the LFS to update them and have reached out to Ms. Cisneros.   We expect Ms. Cisneros’ license will be granted in due course. 

By way of background, starting last fall and continuing through the spring of this year, a new management team here at Boston Reed has worked diligently to evaluate all processes and controls. This included a top-to-bottom audit of all our phlebotomy technician programs to ensure all LFS-related administration matters are current.   Some administrative errors were identified, and we have been working with the LFS to remedy them.  We have been proactively contacting students to address any administrative updates required to ensure their certifications are completed and approved.

At all times, the Phlebotomy Technician curriculum has been approved and has run successfully at community colleges and adult schools regulated by the California of Department of Education. The issues here solely relate to filing technicalities with the LFS.

Our mission is to create accessible and transformational learning experiences that produce high caliber allied health professionals. The management team now in place is completely dedicated to that mission.

While we can appreciate your interest in obtaining more detailed information, our first obligation is to the success and privacy of our students.  The issues we are addressing have real and personal consequences for our students, and we are focused on providing the best result for each.  We can assure you, however, that the number of impacted students is a very, very small percentage of our Phlebotomy students.

To the extent that an error made by Boston Reed has hindered a student’s ability to get a state certification, we have offered a full refund, have offered them new classes at no cost, and have treated each of their cases individually in order to do what we can to help them succeed.

Over the last several months, we have had many conversations with the Laboratory Field Services division of the CDPH, attempting to come up with a solution in which only Boston Reed would be adversely affected by the administrative errors, and there would be no impact on students.  Unfortunately, we were unable to obtain a resolution that avoided the need for some students to re-take the course.  We have placed or are working to place each of these students in a new class as soon as possible. 

The school refused to say how many students are affected.  But students like Cisneros and Jackson are now wondering whether they wasted 64 hours of their lives.

“You can never get time back,” said Jackson.

The Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education has the power to cite and fine, all the way up to revoking a school’s approval to operate.

The Department of Public Health is the agency that approves locations.  They say these students need to re-take the classroom portion of the course, but Boston Reed says that’s not the case for every student.  Cisneros and Jackson have not been offered refunds.

 

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