LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - A local nursing school on life support fought to get another chance. On April 15, school leaders at Spencerian College tried to convince the Kentucky Board of Nursing they were turning things around, and should be taken off probation. Spencerian leaders told the board keeping the school on probation hurts the school, and its students. Some board members agreed.
Dozens of Spencerian College's 200 Registered Nursing students packed the Kentucky Board of Nursing on Whittington Parkway as the school asked board members to reverse a decision they made just two months ago: putting it on probation.
"We just want a fair shake," said Dale Charles, the director of nursing at Spencerian. "We want to be able to admit students, work out curriculum bugs, and improve the reputation of the school."
Charles, who brought faculty members with him to show their dedication to the school, told the board members that Spencerian is a good school.
"All schools have issues and we are trying to work on those. And I am just asking the board to work with us."
A lack of teacher interest was one of the problems cited by a Board of Nursing representative who made the school visit that led to the probation. Students we spoke with in the Registered Nursing program, which costs more than $20,000 to attend, said at times teachers talked on cell phones during class and taught out of the wrong book.
But the board said teachers aren't the only problem. They also said the school had poor curriculum and low test scores.
Last year, Spencerian's Registered Nursing grads had a 19% fail rate on the licensing exam. The board said fail rates shouldn't be higher than 15%. Charles argued two other Registered Nursing programs in the state had lower test scores but weren't put on probation, implying Spencerian isn't being treated fairly. But board members said the problems at Spencerian date back years.
"You are the only school that has had, to my knowledge, seven years of failing to meet the standard," said board member Carol Komara.
But Charles said probation, which means no new student admissions, will make it even tougher for him to turn things around. As the vote approached, some board members seemed conflicted about what the right thing to do really was.
In the end, the board voted 7-6 to keep Spencerian on probation, leaving a number of disappointed students convinced the Board of Nursing made a bad situation even worse.
"I don't think it's fair they didn't ask us what we wanted," said nursing student Julie Bell. "Now I've got to go try and find another school."
Spencerian's attorney has promised to get the board's decision over turned in court. But if it's upheld, the school will not be allowed to admit new students for one year. And if they don't improve on the scores and other problems, the program could be shut down all together.