Mississippi Center for Justice and private counsel sue Virginia College over fraudulent practices

July 18, 2012

For-Profit College Deceived Students and Impeded Job Opportunities to Gain Revenue

Jackson, Miss. - July, 18, 2012 - Today, Mississippi Center for Justice, in collaboration with Warren L. Martin, Jr., P.A. and Kenya R. Martin, LLC, filed a formal complaint against Virginia College, LLC in a case involving higher education practices of fraud, breach of contract and negligence; citing violations of the Equal Credit Opportunity Act, 15 U.S.C. § 1691 et seq.; and violation of Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq. The complaint was filed with the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi on behalf of individual plaintiffs, students of Virginia College, asserting matters of misrepresentation of legitimate occupational accreditation, affordable education and employment opportunities. The plaintiffs also allege that Virginia College targeted minorities and women with its predatory product – the second suit in the nation to make such a claim against an educational institution.

The plaintiffs assert that Virginia College deliberately withheld information regarding employment prospects, did not have the accreditation accepted by area employers, failed to meet even its own accreditation agency’s standards, and provided false documentation of certification, thereby violating the law. Allegations include that the proprietary college has strategically targeted low-income African Americans and women with exploitative practices that negatively impacted their pursuit of advanced degrees or ability to secure gainful employment because their degrees are not recognized by regional schools or employers.

“In this economic environment, a high-quality education is essential to landing a good job. The plaintiffs worked hard to earn their degrees, only to find out that they don’t have a degree that meets the employment market standards for certification, and they’re now in debt,” said Whitney Barkley, consumer protection staff attorney with the Mississippi Center for Justice.

The Center is representing students who have been defrauded by Virginia College’s Medical Assistants Program, and intend to work for justice for all students. Their work will bring awareness to the implications of varying accrediting standards at post secondary schools that affect the future plans and goals of Mississippi’s hard-working population who are trying to better their economic circumstances.
“This establishment did not provide students with enough hands-on training to prepare them for the job market, did not place students in appropriate externships and falsely certified that they were qualified to be employed as medical assistants,” continued Barkley. “Virginia College’s medical assisting program does not meet the standards of its own accrediting agency.”

Co-counsel Warren L. Martin, Jr., P.A. and Kenya R. Martin, LLC are Jackson-based attorneys who have prosecuted other civil claims against Virginia College, LLC.

While engaging in predatory and fraudulent activities, Virginia College received federal funding for its programs. In 2010, 88.4% of the revenue reported by Virginia College was derived from federal financial aid sources.

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Mississippi Center for Justice is a nonprofit, public interest law firm committed to advancing racial and economic justice. Supported and staffed by attorneys, community leaders and volunteers, the Center develops and pursues strategies to combat discrimination and poverty statewide. More information about the Center’s campaigns to advance racial and economic justice is available online at www.mscenterforjustice.org.

Additional information can be provided by Attorney Kenya R. Martin at (601) 923-1577.