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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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About Megan Wright


  1. george wilkerson,MD

    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

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

  4. 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. 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

    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. 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. How do I join this lawsuit?

  9. 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. 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. 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

    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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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. 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.

  19. I graduated from VC in 2010. Since then I have not found a job based on what I went there for. I believe that they did not prepare us well enough to know how to code right. I had teachers that could not teach medical coding. I had complained about that. When I enrolled at VC, they did not tell me that they are not a credited school. I found that out when I tried to go to UAB and they won’t transfer my classes. All the classes are not credited. When you apply for a job, they prefer applicants from credited schools. The time is not enough for any students to learn. Some teachers do not have a system, so that you can learn everything that you need to learn. But anyway, most coding teachers do not know how to code right. They based their answers from their teachers’ book so answers are already provided for them. I went back to school and hopefully finish RN from a good accredited college, but t have to start all over again. Anyway, it is good because I am gaining a lot more relevant knowledge. . I have learned more about Biology and Anatomy now than at VC. Even the science programs are not good there either. I owe $35,000 and it really hurts.

  20. I have been recently been withdrawn from MBC course inwhich I was due to extern & graduate sept of this year 2014… It was told to me that the classes were flexible but numerous of times there was problems with class schedule & workn two jobs became a burden. I am also requesting any information in order to join lawsuit if still applical… To b so close to completion & attendence was the exuse which is taken off portal so I can not debate the issue without info they have conveniently omitted off my class profile. I do not suggest VC for a place of education.

  21. danielle sowers

    I attended this school under the medical billing and coding program. I have one more class to take to aquire my degree and can not do so because of this schools lies and false advertising. They told me when I signed up for the program that I would be doing and externship for my last class that they would help me find a site for. What they did not tell me was that they do not have this class in all states. In the past year I have moved 4 times (which is why I chose online schooling). This did not make any sense to me because it is online courses so it should not matter what state I am in. Anyway due to the fact that I can never get any of their employees to answer a phone, return messages, or emails I have been left paying for a degree for the past 2 1/2 years that I dont even have yet. The one time I did get someone on the phone they gave me information that was completely incorrect. I was told I would be able to complete my externship at a vet hospital so I went and found my own externship site to get this done, emailed all of the info to the school and received an email back saying that a vet hospital is not a place they allow ofr this class. I regret every trying to get a better education to help support my family. All it has done is made my monthly bills go up even more for nothing. I want to sue this school so that I no longer have to pay for a worthless education. This school needs to be shut down.

  22. I am currently a student and the teachers have been people in the field that can’t teach, and they don’t seem to either know the curriculum or they have no input on the syllabus that I’ve been told by each teacher has come from the home office and if it was for them cetain aspects would be taught or removed from the lesson plans. I get the feeling even the teachers aren’t satisfied by the lack of quallity that’s being provided. I even had a teacher that also taught at another school advise my class on how we may need to seek education somewhere else. I have one more term and that’s the only reason why I stayed because I have invested to much money an time. As far as the externships they quarantee the assistance but at my school in Richmond VA they only assisted about 30% most people from what we were told found there own. I can say that we have had teachers that had many bad complaints one term and the next term they were gone. But now I’m in a class and the teacher has no idea what her lesson plan is or what she is teaching, we are all literally trying to figure out the stuff teacher included. They say the offer virutal labs where you can do the work in medical billling and coding and I haven’t had one yet. Either the teachers were unaware or they just weren’t working. I can safely say I am clueless and I have even withdrew from a class because I just couldn’t take the teachers lack of teaching any more. I do plan on filling a complaint against the school. We have a new Dean which is great because the old Dean barely returned your complaint calls. I wouldn’t refer this school to anyone. Plus you can’t transfer your credits anywhere. The only good thing has been the teachers that do recognize the failure of this school and use their own resources to try and help their class. What do you do when the school is set up to not work, maybe they should have hired people that can teach because I don’t care if your in the field if you can’t teach me, you can be a guest speaker.

  23. I’m currently enrolled in the Cosmetology program at VC in North Charleston, sc. This school is a damn joke. I transferred from the nursing program from another college to attend this college, putting myself 1000 dollars in debt. The admissions rep had me convinced this school was right for me. She told me that the cosmetology program followed pivot point and and that by the time this program is finished i’ll be able to get my state cert and be licensed as a cosmetologist. NOT THE CASE!! The teachers don’t follow the curriculum for pivot point!! This wouldn’t be such a big deal if the school hadn’t cost me $27000! so, here i am with a big bag full of pivot point materials and not a single instructor is educated on the pivot piont material!!! why would you advertise such a thing when you don’t even follow it’s syllabus! Our teacher wasn’t in class on monday, so we had a sub. That sub had to leave our classroom to work in the salon on campus because we didn’t have enough cosmetology instructors working that day. So, instead of cutting hair that day, we spent the day watching the movie Selma. I’m paying this school 27000 dollars to not teach the curriculum that i was promised. I have spent that last 7 years of my life in the military and for the longest time before i got out, people told me, “getting a job out there is rough”. Well, they were fucking wrong! it’s not getting a job that’s difficult. It’s the shady dishonest people out there that make life harder than it needs to be. This college should be burned to the ground for its lies and misguidance. I just don’t understand why a college would do this to people. I feel betrayed and swindled like a damn fool. Tell whoever you can to NOT go to this school. The passion they have for whatever they want to go to this school for will be drowned by deceit and replaced with hopelessness. Please do not attend this school. please. I wouldn’t want anyone to feel how i fell right now.

  24. How do I join? I was one of the FIRST. Grads for the medical assistant programs under dr Sanders and I still have no job in this field… 15 years later!!! And I’m still paying my loans off

  25. Katrina Martinez

    I went to VC spartanburg, sc in 2012-2014 for medical billing and coding. Was told that the school would help find a job. Took me 5 times to past the test. Still didn’t have work after 6 months so I went back for pharmacy technician. Next week I will be finish only just now being told I will only be registered not certified. I will have to pay to do the test. The school is a big joke and which I hadn’t went back. Now stuck with over 30,000 in student loans.

  26. Autumn Trower

    I attended the Virginia College Online program for Associates in Business Management, was informed they would compile the classes needed for this degree and I was quoted $8,000.00 for this program as it is online and it included the books. During this program, I had made the Deans list and Presidents list and I still had to correct the ‘Teachers’/’professors’ on the ‘tests’ and ‘finals’ they were giving. Once I was Through the program, I got my bill from the Department of Education which stated I owed $40,000.00

    I attended from 2009-2011

    When I contacted the school ‘Office’ about this the person who quoted me and signed me up no longer worked there and the person with that position, told me ‘well, you should have added up the credit hours and how much each class costs’ and add that together for your program’, then it was too bad so sad you already signed papers for this. There was No CONFIRMED dollar amount in print, for the program that they SELECTED ALL of my classes for this specific program.

    After this discussion, she differed the approach stating ‘maybe, you (me) misunderstood what the rep said, maybe he meant $8,000.00 a year’ I said that still doesn’t add up, I know how to do math, Even with interest, it still doesn’t add up to $40,000.00′ , then she said, well maybe he meant $8,000.00 a semester?!’ at that point she was grasping at straws instead of taking responsibility or even doing something about it aside from shifting blame.

    I’m still fighting this out with the Department of Education.

  27. jared baldock

    I am currently attending and no,one knows anything here most class time is reading a book hearing all this pissed me off now how do I get out of this

  28. I saw tge advertisement on facebook newsfeed on medical assistant course. I signed up on line and they called me 5 times a day for the first day as soon as i signed up only one second i was so surprised the caller introduces herself i forgot her name and said she is from Virginia College of Pensacola. The next day another lady called me from other State bec i asked her. She called me twice tgat day. On the 3rd day they call me again like 3x asking when i can go to their office. I mentioned that i am a new immigrant and a legal resident and if i can get federal assistance they said yes. I was looking for student reviews about this school and i found this so thank u i changed my mind. I don’t want to be in debts for nothing. Is anybody else know about Pensacola school of massage therapist and health careers is this a good school or the same bs?

  29. I graduated from Antonilli College in Hattiesburg Ms, I and many others that was in my medial coding & billing class felt like we where pones. Although, I graduated in medical coding & billing it seems as if my diploma means nothing. 1. Because I know I can not pass the certification test based on 3 try’s. It’s ashamed how someone in ( Dept.. of Education) is not looking at how many students that take such courses as medical coding and many other course. Unable to pass certification,colleges are looking at quantity instead of quality of education. I’m an associate degreeer that has a $ 73,000 plus student loan with no job, let alone in my field of chose. I’ve been getting letters for payment but how can I pay without a job. I sad that it all a scam and the government letting them get away with it. Its all as worse as Medicaid fraud, only different its preying on students to make money and getting the government to help. I know for a fact that Antonelli College in Hattiesburg Ms. sought after a women on one of those job search website for a teacher to teach medical coding. She knew how to code but did not know how to teach it. That’s a big difference to know it and not able to teach it. It was brought to the Dean buy students but nothing was ever done. We as students suffered at the end unable to pass certification and end up with a costly loan hanging over our head. Which would put us in worse shape that we started out before starting school.

  30. Debra Johnson

    How’s the nursing program antonelli college in Hattiesburg ms

  31. Jennifer Deer

    How can i join this lawsuit I started February 2005 graduated February 2006 and owe 65,000.00

  32. I was there with you. This is Lisa Carter. I’m living in Louisiana and when i came home in 2013, I still couldn’t get a job as a Certified Medical Assistant. I also have a Degree in Medical Billing and Coding. Neither Degree was accepted in my state.

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