Former students file lawsuit against Virginia College

JACKSON — A federal lawsuit filed on behalf of seven women accuses Virginia College’s Jackson branch of fraud, breach of contract and negligence in its medical assistants program.

The lawsuit was filed last week in U.S. District Court in Jackson. It claims the privately operated, for-profit school didn’t prepare students for the job market and falsely certified they were qualified to be employed as medical assistants.

For example, the lawsuit says none of the plaintiffs had sufficient training in drawing blood to meet certification standards. Some students, the lawsuit claims, only drew blood from a dummy during their studies.

Whitney Barkley, staff attorney at Mississippi Center for Justice, which is representing the students, said today that the students aren’t doing enough blood draws and “sticks” for diabetes testing to be certified by the school’s own accreditation agency.

“They can’t find work. Most of them are not even getting interviews. The ones who did said they were told they would need between 50 and 100 live blood draws to even be considered for the job,” Barkley said. The students have only a fraction of that many, she said.

As a result, the former students say they’re saddled with student-loan debts, but can’t find jobs in the medical field.

The lawsuit also claims the college sought out low-income black women with targeted advertising. Most of the plaintiffs are black women.

“Defendants are engaged in a scheme of specifically targeting African-Americans by creating advertisements that primarily use African-Americans as models, purchasing advertising time during daytime programming and late night programming, employing mostly African-Americans as admission officers and advertising mostly in African-American neighborhoods,” the lawsuit said.

Jackson attorney Robert Gibbs, who represents Virginia College, said the college denies the allegations.

Gibbs said he couldn’t comment on the specific allegations in the lawsuit, but he defended the college and said it provides a quality education to many students.

“Our medical assistants program has been successfully educating and placing students in the Jackson market for over a dozen years,” Gibbs said. “If you want to look at our graduation and placement rates, and what we charge for tuition, all of that information is available for public review. All they have to do is go to our website.”

Virginia College in Jackson offers certification and associate degrees in fields like cosmetology, criminal justice and medical assisting. The school is operated by Education Corporation of America of Birmingham, Ala., a private, for-profit company.

The company was founded in 1983 and has 25 campuses across the Southeast and collected $292 million in 2011, the lawsuit said. The Jackson campus opened in 2000 and has generated revenue of more than $12 million in a year, with most of that money coming from financial aid services, according to the lawsuit.

Barkley, the attorney at Mississippi Center for Justice, said the figures came from the U.S. Department of Education.

Gibbs, the Virginia College lawyer, said the college is committed to Jackson. He said Virginia College is investing $5.1 million on a new building to expand its facilities.

The former students are being represented by the Mississippi Center for Justice, a nonprofit law firm, and Jackson attorneys Warren Martin Jr. and Kenya Martin.

The Martins sued the school last year on behalf of another group of students, claiming their program wasn’t accredited. That lawsuit is pending in the courts.

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18 Responses to “Former students file lawsuit against Virginia College”

  1. george wilkerson,MD Says:

    Having employed a graduate of this program,she worked for 2 weeks before being fired, I can attest to the fact that the graduates are not prepared for employment as medical assistants, or for that matter much of anything else. it was heartbreaking to see a young woman(white,by the way) who believed she had been given an education for her money be so woefully unprepared. No blood work was done in my office but she was not even prepared to take vital signs, pull charts or any tasks of an assistant;. about time someone reigned in these folks ,in my opinion.

  2. Phyllis Barnes Says:

    I graduated in the Billing and Coding Program from Virginia College in 2010, and I agree with Dr. Wilkerson, you were not given enough training in your field. I persistently inquired several times about the ICD9 classes, and we only did billing at the end of the program for about 3 weeks. It was as if they were afraid to train us. But I think it was because they did not have enough qualified individuals to train u. I wanted to learn how to code and bill, but insteach I got lessons about the instructor’s life. In class they talked about themselves a lot and did not focus on training us. So when I went for my externship(which is a joke) the employer told us that we were not trained enough to work for him in the externship. I did beg to differ with this employer because of my former training as a banker and told him I was overqualified with my past experience, but I understood where he was coming from. They sent me to another site, of which I was overqualified to train at, then to a third site. They did not want to show me anything but to file, so I went to each one of the workers and ask for assistance. There was only one that helped, and they fired her after I left, which was an indication to me that something was not right. I graduated with honors but I did not feel like they merited me walking to pick up my diploma. I have prayed about this, and feel now, they are getting what was coming to them. I feel like $16,000 is a lot of money for you to not know what you are doing after 15 months of good for nothing classes.

  3. AHHHH! Says:

    Okay lawyers,start running ads for lawsuits against this company! The reports will come flooding in!ju

  4. Porche Says:

    I was told this college was accredited now i am 20,000 in debt without a degree and transferring to the UOP. I have wasted almost two years off my life to be told that even if i got my associates no one would look at it. If I want to file a lawsuit against them how would I do it?

  5. Charlotte Says:

    I attended V C about 8 years ago, got an associate degree in business and had no help from them to get a job in the workforce( which is what they said they would help me with). After failing to find a job after about 1 year or so… Desperately I attended cosmetology school so that I can have an income coming into my household. After that I wanted to try to go back to school to try to get a bachelors degree but none of the colleges would allow me to transfer my college hours from them. So I was stuck with Virginia College, so eventually I tried their online course from Alabama but guess what not much success there either…..so know I have large student loans and a certificate that has no meaning to employers…. What can be done? How can we warn unexpected new students so they won’t have the same problems?

  6. C. Washington Says:

    I am a graduate from the Virginia College in Biloxi, Mississippi in 2011. I graduated with almost a 4.0 average, perfect attendance from day one, execellence attendance, Dean’s list, Presidents list, and I even graduated with honors. Like the rest of the students, they made promises they didn’t honor. They never helped me find a job. I had a hard time finding someone to return my phone calls. I have had several interviews and nothing to this day. All I have to show is an Associate Degree that I now wonder if it is credited or even honor anywhere. Not to mention, they put my student loan all over my credit report and I have not even started paying for it, it was deferred. There should be something that we can do as students that have been misguided, lied to, let down, betrayed, given false hope, and left with a hefty bill to pay with no means of income coming in to pay it.

  7. ketra T Says:

    I am in my second semester at V.C in SC and it is a load of crap they first told me they accepted my v.a scholarship in which I have 100% free tuition after about six months of not receiving my benefits I started to investigate their lies of they were waiting to be approved by the VA say what? Isn’t this something that was suppose to be done before your doors open? There for I am already in debt 6 grand no type of income coming and I just got evicted out of my home! Then on top of all this they charged me for classes I didn’t take and when I brought THEIR error to their attention they still have not gotten back to me this about 3 grand of my money and now everyone is silent! Could someone please give me any advice? My spirit and pockets are broken! This school is indeed a joke and I honestly believe no one will employ any person who does obtain a degree from them!

  8. Vicki G Says:

    How do I join this lawsuit?

  9. diana Says:

    It is not limited to MS it is here in Augusta as well, It is not limited to the MA programs, its all the programs. I too would like to join the petition.

  10. m.bennett Says:

    I graduated sept 2009 and i feel the same exact way “C. Washington” feels!!!!!! you took the words right out of my mouth. I went to the WIN center in bay st. louis , ms to get the help to find a job and the career services lady that worked at V C college at the time I was enrolled, was working at the WIN center and told me herself that she knew we were being mislead and couldn’t say anything!!!!!I have all these loans and i am having a hard time finding a job to even repay the loans let alone take care of two kids…I am a single parent of two children..I went to V. C trying to better my life for me and my two kids and didn’t get anything but a bogus Certificate..Not to mention NO COLLEGE will except my credits unless its virginia college and i refuse to waste anymore of my time and money at a school that isen’t worth my time!!!!

  11. Jeff M Says:

    This was some BS! I have never been so humiliated in my life. VC will take whatever dignity you have
    And flush it down the toilet. Do not got to this school! I have not been able to get a job since graduating
    With my associates degree in digital media 3 years ago. And since then they have discontinued the program. But I still have to pay the loans back! Beware if you are black this is a trap to put you in debt!

  12. Vc nursing school grad Says:

    Oh my!!! All of the stories that I have read are quite unfortunate. However, I do have a positive note to add, I graduated from VC in Mobile in their nursing program. I passed my state board and got my RN license on my first shot. I say this not to brag, but to give a different perspective. I was hired immediately buy the largest hospital in Mobile. I do agree w/ some of the things that I have read ( expensive tution, a lack of empathy). I don’t think money should be taken if the potential to start a career isn’t there. This can hopefully be achieved with tighter regulations and compliance rules.

  13. Colleen Lowe Says:

    I attend VC in Pensacola- I’m part of their LPN program. This “school” is a damn joke. I wish I had done more homework before I obligated myself. Accredited, my ass- if I quit VC, not a single credit could be transferred anywhere. There are always foul-ups with financial aid, and they literally change their policies mid-term.. every term. They preach about professionalism, but I sure as hell haven’t seen any displayed- especially not from the staff. There are some really excellent educators there- I personally know of two of them, and I have a really good feeling about 2 more (but I haven’t had them for instruction yet.) Tonya Moore and Kathy Lirette are passionate and knowledgeable about their professions, and it shows. They seek to educate, not get off on a position of “power”. However, there is at least one who is just dismal- I don’t even know why she’s allowed to “teach” there. I don’t think she has the right qualifications, though from what I have seen I can understand why she chooses to teach- this woman is a menace and I can’t imagine her actually caring for patients in any setting at all. I wouldn’t let her tend to my dog- and my dog has been dead for 10 years. Or clinical hours are a JOKE- we are CNAs, basically. I am now extremely efficient at washing butts and changing linens, but I have no confidence in my ability to perform as a nurse in an actual working environment. Our theory time is a joke. Instead of really learning about stuff we need to know – like anatomy and disease processes- we have to cram for exams in hopes of regurgitating enough information to get us a passing grade on the tests. This is not learning.
    The only thing going for me at this point is that when I am finished, I will at least get a letter for the State Nursing Board that will allow me to take the NCLEX. That’s really all I need to get my license, I need to pass the NCLEX.

  14. Karen Floyd Says:

    I graduated from Virginia College in Spartanburg SC, I graduated in the Medical Assistant program in June of 2012, and still havent found a job, some of the same reasons no fingersticks or blood draws, only done on a dummy in class, not prepared for the work force, but in debt with loans, something need to be done about this school, how can i join this lawsuit.

  15. Gabe c. Says:

    I do feel bad for you who have been moved astray by VC. However, I really like the school. I attend the Huntsville campus and I will have my associates in network engineering this week. I’ve had a job in my field since this time last year and recently gained a mid level position making nearly 6 figures with out having a degree yet…in most cases, it is not the school but rather the student. I know quite a few in the MA program who also already have jobs as MAs….VCARD isn’t going to give you a job…they can get you in touch with employers but after that…its all on you. maybe they can’t get jobs because they are terrible interviewers….just saying….if you put in the effort it pays off.

  16. Andy Says:

    It most definetely is the school and not the students so disagree with the person above. I was going to attend Virginia College in Huntsville’s Orthopedic Technology classes but after doing some research to be hired in this field employers want you to have to take a test to be a registered orthopedic technologist by the American Society of Orthopedic Professionals. And to do so, you have to come from a college that gives you a certain amount of clinical hours. VC DOES NOT give you that many clinical hours to sit down to take the test so therefore you can not be registered hence no job for you. Not sure if they changed it since then this was some years ago but yeah that was just silly. Go somewhere else for your education.

  17. Ray S Says:

    To be honest, I was very interested in attending this school. The admissions rep. and I met up for a campus tour. The Pharmacy Tech. Program was the most interesting. I was excited about attending until I spoke to other people that told me some discouraging things about Virginia College in Biloxi. Therefore, I decided to look into community college or a union trade apprenticeship program. I do not know what to say about this school. All I want to know is the truth about Virginia College because their commercials seem very promising.

  18. julie jones Says:

    I currently attend virginia college in Florence Sc, and ready to graduate in April of 2014 I failed my first drug yest in September of 2013 which was my fault. I last smoked in July of the same year. I recently took 2 more drug test and wad told I failed those also, which is ipossble. I was told on Decembe.r. 19th that I failed again, so I went out and bought two drug test. on the same day and passed them both also had blood work drawn from my doctors office and it came back negative. They never wrote done my prescribed medications I was taking which I’ am still on at the place where they sent me to be tested. I was told they had to dismiss. me from virginia college and all of the other virginia colleges and that the best thing I could do is get a copy of my trantscript and go to miller mott. So I told them that I refute that drug test and wanted the so called doctor to look at it again so I could bring my prescripts in and I haven’t heard from them yet. All I have left to do is my externship and I just passed my certification with an 85. Going to find me a lawyer this coming week.

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