The Workforce Board is state agency that licenses private vocational schools in Washington. The first written complaint came in 1999. The Workforce Board investigated and found the student had been lied to with regards to the length of the program and ordered CRI to pay him back approximately $3,000. They also ordered CRI to make changes to prevent students from being misled in the future.
In 2001, nine students complained to not only the Workforce Board, but the Department of Education and to the CRI's accrediting agency. The Workforce Board performed an investigation and found essentially the same thing as they had in 1999: CRI lied about the length of the program and had not followed the requirements that had been ordered after Blair Mitchell’s 1999 complaint. There was also a concern about how few students completed (11 out of 600 enrollees) and how much the students were being run into debt, mainly because of the addition of charges called “lab and dictation fees.” (This allowed CRI to charge students who had not completed in the contracted length all over again – at one half of what they had paid the first time around.) Once again, CRI was ordered to make changes so students would be informed about the true length and cost of the program, and to counsel students from taking on too much debt if it appeared they would not finish. None of the nine were eligible for reimbursement from the Workforce Board because they did not fall within the one year statute of limitations.
Walter Wong of the Workforce Board wrote a letter to the nine students who complained in 2001, where he says their concerns about the amount of money received by CRI in students loans, etc., would be passed on to the Department of Education.
In 2003 there was another complaint that was closed for lack of follow up. However, in 2004, two more students complained. The Workforce Board found CRI was using unqualified instructors, and the girls entered into a negotiated settlement with CRI via Assistant Attorney General Terry Ryan, each receiving about $3,100 back. CRI signed an agreement with the state spelling out exactly what constituted a qualified instructor.
Between 2005 and 2006, the Workforce Board was flooded with complaints, similar to previous complaints. (Most of the previous complainants also noted lack of proper training materials, and the self-taught nature of the course.) However, at that time, CRI managed to convince the Workforce Board otherwise, so those aspects of the complaints went unsubstantiated until the 2005/2006 complaints. In the 2005 investigation, the Workforce Board found CRI continued to lie to students about the length of the program, continued to use unqualified instructors, failed to apply satisfactory progress standards consistently, and their equipment was insufficient.
Blair Mitchell, a CRI student, complained to the Workforce Board., He had been a student for five years at the time of his complaint. The Workforce Board's finding was that that the school had misled Mr. Mitchell regarding the length of time it took to complete the program, which had been represented to him as a 36 month program as an evening student. In their investigation, the Workforce Board found that of the 185 students enrolled in the evening program since 1988, 158 had dropped out and 4.3 percent were still enrolled six years later.
The Workforce Board required the school to institute a
plan so students would be adequately informed of how long the evening
program could take. They also required CRI to reimburse the
student approximately $3,150 per a formula worked out by the Workforce
A letter was left on CRI students’ cars warning them of problems at CRI and encouraging them to complain to Department of Education, Northwest Educational Loan Association, the Attorney General and other agencies. The next class session, Alen Janisch, the director of CRI, called an assembly regarding the note and described a disgruntled student with attitude and attendance problems who had been kicked out of school and was venting her frustrations. Students were told that anytime we heard of anyone “trying to disrupt the educational process at CRI” we were to immediately report it to him personally.
On October 5, 2001 nine students complained about
issues with the school. Those letters of complaint were sent to
then Attorney General Christine Gregoire, Governor Gary Locke, Senator
Patty Murray, Senator Maria Cantwell, Representative Jim McDermott,
Senator Pat Thibaudeau, Representative Frank Chopp, Representative
Edward Murray, and Ellen O’Brien Saunders, Executive Director of the
Workforce Board. Letters of complaint about CRI’s practices were also sent
to Sallie Mae, various lending institutions, Northwest Education Loan
Association, and the U.S. Department of Education. Here is the
response to one of the students who complained.
A student complained to the Workforce Board regarding several issues with the school. Apparently, there was an abundance of information exchanged between the student and the Workforce Board, as well as with a credit agency that was pursuing her over charges from the school for tuition the student said she didn’t owe because she had left months before those charges. For some reason, the case was closed because the agency and the student seem to have lost track of one another.
Two more students complained to the Workforce Board. The eventual findings were that CRI was using unqualified instructors to teach theory (They were using a failed former student and a current student.) CRI appealed the findings and then entered into a negotiated settlement with the Workforce Board via Assistant Attorney General Terry Ryan. They each received $3,000 back and a settlement agreement was written up spelling out in detail exactly what the requirements were for instructors at CRI.
Complaints by six to eight separate students about many of the school’s practices were made, including the lack of training provided, and the deception and lies being put forth by CRI’s directors and employees. They also complained about the outdated and unreliable equipment and the qualifications of the instructors. The floodgates then opened and there were somewhere in the neighborhood of 29 complaints between 1996 and 2006, according to the Workforce Board. Here is a very detailed one. In several determinations, one on June 6, 2005, resolving the complaints of five students, the Workforce Board found that CRI did indeed mislead students in many areas, including the length of the program, the qualifications of the instructors the amount and condition of the equipment, used false and misleading advertising practices, etc. This finding was reiterated in a determinations dated August 1, 2005 September 21, 2005.
In all of the recent findings, the Workforce Board ordered Alen Janisch/CRI to pay students back tuition and rental equipment fees, as well as their $100 application fee. Peggy Rudolph also awarded lab and dictation fees if applicable. They did not order him to pay any of the interest that had accrued and did not order any refund for equipment purchased instead of rented. Alen Janisch/CRI and did not do as ordered, so the state made those payments to that handful of students out of the Tuition Reimbursement Fund ("TRF") maintained for students who are left hanging when a school goes out of business, etc.
Non-Renewal of License to Teach Court Reporting
In one 2006 determination, the Workforce Board details exactly how lab and dictation fees drove this student so deeply into debt. Teachers were praising students' progress so they could meet the "satisfactory progress" requirements, while moving their graduation dates further and further out, even though no progress was actually being made. This kept the student in school longer and longer, causing them to not only borrow more and more loan money, but to also accrue more and more debt in loan interest. This June 2, 2006 determination is for a student who was in school over five years.
It is important to note that the Workforce Board has authority to adjudicate claims made within one year of the student’s last date of attendance only. No other claims will be entertained by them. Findings in the above cases were based on CRI violating the Washington State Consumer Protection Act.