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Authorities shut down unlicensed L.A. nursing school

August 11, 2010 |  5:15 pm
A fake nursing school in Los Angeles that charged more than 300 students $20,000 each in tuition despite lacking accreditation to train them was shut down this week and will be forced to pay partial restitution.

RN Learning Center had promised students they could earn a bachelor of science degree in nursing in less than two years.

"The school destroyed the aspirations of hundreds of students who also lost thousands of dollars in wasted tuition,” California Atty. Gen. Jerry Brown said in a statement Wednesday. “The school will shut its doors today and pay back its former students as fully as it can."

Brown said under a settlement his staff negotiated on behalf of the nursing board, the school’s owner, Junelou Chalico Enterina, agreed to close the school, never open another one in California and pay former students a total of $500,000 in restitution.

State officials had been trying to close the school for years. Three years ago, the Board of Registered Nursing ordered it shut down, disciplined two registered nurses associated with the facility and posted a notice on the school's website warning prospective students about unaccredited schools.

Yet authorities said the Wilshire Boulevard school continued to lure students, mostly Filipino Americans who already worked in the health field. Students traveled to the Philippines for a month of clinical study at hospitals and prisons, attending classes at a foreign nursing school that also was not accredited in California.

Board officials do not believe any of the defunct nursing school’s students went on to become registered nurses. About 50 applied to take a licensing exam that would have qualified them to become registered nurses, but they were considered ineligible after their transcripts were declared fraudulent because the school was unlicensed.

Among them was Faith Tubi, 46, a single mother of two who commuted from Bakersfield to attend the school in 2006. Tubi said she paid more than $20,000 in tuition, much of it borrowed from relatives and her children’s savings, only to see her application for the licensing exam repeatedly rejected. Unable to take the exam, she said she eventually was fired from her job as a student nurse at the Kern County Department of Mental Health. 

On Wednesday, Tubi said she was grateful for the settlement and still waiting to hear what her share will be of the restitution. She still hopes to pursue a nursing degree.

“I know I’ve lost two years, but I’m thankful that hopefully we’ll get this resolved somehow,” Tubi said.

She advised those considering nursing school to check the school’s accreditation with the state nursing board and get it in writing before they pay their tuition.

“Do your research and make sure you have everything down on paper,” she said. “Don’t just settle.”

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

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