Some former students in the adult division of Indiana County Technology Center have filed suit against the school, charging that a medical training course failed to qualify them for the licenses required to find jobs.
In a civil complaint filed March 18 in Indiana County Common Pleas Court, the students allege that ICTC advertised the Certified Medical Assistant course they attended in the 2011-12 academic year as being accredited when it was not.
Because the class was not certified, the students charge, they were ineligible for an examination by the American Association of Medical Assistants and, in turn, could not seek work as certified medical assistants.
They are asking the court to award hundreds of thousands of dollars in damages for breach of contract, violation of consumer protection laws and unjust enrichment.
Brandie Barr, of Creekside; Brandy Edmiston, of Indiana; Rachel Damann, of Lilburn, Ga.; and Juanita Vrana, of Indiana, are represented by attorney Mark Bolkovac, of Indiana.
The technology center’s executive director, Carol Jean Fry, declined Tuesday to comment on the lawsuit.
The lawsuit charges that ICTC claimed in its student handbook to have been accredited by either the Commission on Accreditation of Allied Health Education Programs or the Accrediting Bureau of Health Education Schools, enabling all students who completed the Medical Assistant Diploma Program to take the AAMA’s CMA exam.
The students claim in the lawsuit that they paid tuition to enroll in the course beginning Aug. 29, 2011, attended the required 1,030 hours of classes, took tests, and completed a 160-hour externship and expected to graduate in August 2012.
But in June 2012, according to the lawsuit, the students in the program were told by the program coordinator, Eric Palmer, that ICTC was not in compliance with the accreditation by the industry boards.
The students were not allowed to withdraw from the program, the students charge.
“Although the plaintiffs had completed all (requirements), they will never be able to take a CMA examination without completing an accredited program, paying tuition to such other school, as well as disrupting their employment and personal lives,” the suit charges. The students “incurred numerous expenses to attend the program as well as losing time on the job and other employment opportunities.”
For alleged breach of contract, the suit demands damages in excess of $50,000 to cover tuition and other expenses, loss of time, tuition needed to take the course again, and loss of income from jobs they sought, plus interest and attorney fees.
The suit also demands treble damages — three times the actual losses proven in court — for consumer protection violations.
Charging that ICTC was aware that the medical assistant program was not accredited, and that the school was unjustly enriched by accepting students into the class, the students also seek damages of more than $50,000.
The school’s website lists the medical assistant program among 17 available through the post-secondary adult education division.
“Qualified students will have the opportunity to obtain … NHA Phlebotomy Certification, NHA Certified Clinical Medical Assistant, (and) Registered Medical Assistant (RMA) Certification,” according to the ICTC website. “After completing the MA program, students become eligible to sit for the RMA Certification Exam offered through American Medical Technologist (AMT).”
On the website, ICTC reports that the Pennsylvania State Board of Cosmetology and Pennsylvania State Board of Nursing have accredited the center’s cosmetology and practical nursing programs.