Students file lawsuit against ITT Tech in Louisville

Published: Oct. 15, 2013 at 3:39 PM EDT|Updated: Feb. 5, 2014 at 4:14 AM EST
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Rodford Seabolt
Rodford Seabolt
Jim Ballinger
Jim Ballinger
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway
Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Big money and wasted dreams. ITT Technical Institute is being sued by Louisville students who claim they were misled to get them enrolled. ITT is one of the largest for profit education companies in the US. And now, some serious allegations are being leveled against the people who run their Louisville campus. It's the latest black eye for the for-profit college industry in Kentucky.

Rodford Seabolt, 42, wanted to be a nurse at the Veterans Administration Hospital.

"They said this was a perfect stepping stone," Seabolt said.

He said a recruiter at ITT's Ormsby Station Road campus told him a nursing degree from ITT would help him get that job. So Seabolt took out $23,000 in federal loans, along with the $43,000 he received in GI tuition benefits to go back to school. But during his final quarter of class, more than 2 years after he enrolled, Seabolt said he was told something that floored him.

"Oh yeah by the way Rod, you can't work at the VA hospital," Seabolt said he was told by a ITT staff member. "Once you become an RN here they don't accept our credits. So you can't work there."

Rodford is one of three plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed in against ITT in Jefferson County court. In addition to accusing school recruiters of lying to get them to enroll, the students also claim admissions counselors pressured them to take out thousands of dollars in federal student loans to attend ITT without providing the enrollment packets that outline what's required to graduate.

Those enrollment packets include student notification they have to pass an exit exam, which Seabolt and one of the other plaintiffs have not been able to do. A result, the students say, of poor instruction by ITT staff.

"You know if I had one student contact me I'd think well you know, maybe it's the student," said attorney Jim Ballinger, who is representing the former ITT students. "Maybe they're just not a good test taker or didn't comprehend the materials. But too many people have contacted me."

Eight and counting Ballinger said. ITT was one of the schools examined in a two year investigation of the for profit college industry by a US Senate Committee on Education. It found for profit schools spent more on aggressive marketing campaigns than instruction. More than half of students left school without a degree. And they were much more likely to default on federal student loans than traditional college students meaning taxpayers get left with the bill.

The Kentucky Attorney General is now suing three for profit colleges for violating the state's consumer protection act. ITT has not been named in that action, said AG's spokesperson Allison Martin.

"Our office is aware of some consumer protection issues regarding ITT, and we are reviewing," Martin said.

"Something's wrong," Seabolt. "Now I'm putting two and two together. This school is not in the best interest of the student. It's about the money."

The Kentucky Board of Nursing is also aware of the lawsuit against ITT's nursing program and is investigating. Repeated requests for comment to ITT's Louisville campus and the school's headquarters in Carmel, Indiana, have not been fulfilled.

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