Nursing school nightmare

February 4, 2009 6:12:15 PM PST
They wanted to secure their future during these rough economic times. Instead, they've lost what little savings they had and a lot of time.

" This is a tough economy. People don't have money like that to be throwing, you know. It's thousands and thousands of dollars," Daniel Honore said.

He spent more than $5,000 to enroll as a student in a 10-month training program to become a licensed practical nurse.

Chevanese Hibbert and Karline Gould also spent about $5,000 each to enroll.

"I thought in 10 months I could take my boards and pass it and be working in a hospital in a nursing home," Honore said.

They spent months sitting in classes on the second floor of a Brooklyn building, hours in lectures on "fundamental nursing care" and the "pharmacological aspects of nursing."

Months spent studying, thousands of dollars invested. They were ready to take the New York State nursing boards, but one problem: the school, I.L.P.N. was not certified by the state.

"That's why they were sending people to Connecticut to take the exam, but Connecticut also did not recognize the school so the students were not able to take the test there either," Hibbert said.

"So what did you get for your thousands and thousands of dollars?" I asked.

"Absolutely nothing," Hibbert said.

The three students lost more than a combined $16,000. They believe many other students, perhaps hundreds, lost tens of thousands.

The school recently closed down, but as late as last month, it was still telling interested applicants that it had state approval, a prerequisite, for taking the nursing exams.

Our undercover applicant pressed on the issue of certification:

Undercover applicant: "How long is the course?
School secretary: Ten months.
Undercover applicant: Will I be qualified to take the state tests?
School secretary: Yes (em, em).

Before leaving, our undercover applicant asked one more time, just to be sure:

Undercover applicant: Ten months, then I'll be able to take the state boards when finished with the course?"
School secretary: Yes.

We found the schools executive director, Frants Simeon in Atlanta, where we spoke to him by phone.

"I'm blaming myself. I don't blame everyone else. I blame myself too," he told us.

But mostly, he blames the school's president for failure to get certification. Simeon has filed a lawsuit against the president seeking $10-million in damages to repay large sums of money to students.

"I'm fighting the case to get money to pay everyone of them," he said.

Simeon insisted as executive director he was unaware that the school lacked certification.

The students aren't buying his story. They believe he'll never repay them and the only way to become an LPN is to start all over again.

"What I've learned is, in life, never take short cuts. Just go the hard way. That's the only way it works," Honore said.

We tried repeatedly to contact the president of the nursing school, but he never returned our calls or e-mail.