MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Students at a local career technical college say they’re getting shortchanged on both their tuition and education.
Students from the Appling Farms campus of Vatterott College contacted the On Your Side Investigators after they say they’ve been showing up for class, but the instructor hasn’t.
“We’ve been coming to school and basically paying for no instructor, then not learning nothing,” said one of the students who didn’t want to go on camera for fear of being singled out.
According to its website, Vatterott has 19 locations in nine states.
The for-profit, St. Louis-based school operates programs in areas like business, cosmetology and automotive.
The students who called WREG are part of the Diesel Mechanic Program. They say they haven’t had an instructor for their course in weeks.
The Diesel Mechanic Program, according to Vatterott, takes about a year and a half to complete and costs just under $40,000.
“I feel like I’m getting used and scammed for my money,” said one of the students.
The students told the On Your Side Investigators they just sign the roll and go home, and claim campus administrators know about it, and it’s not the first time.
They even sent pictures to WREG of what they said was the empty classroom and the class roll.
“We would like to have an instructor or at least get refunded for the phases…that we didn’t have a teacher,” said the other student.
Campus administrators wouldn’t speak to WREG, but told us to contact their corporate office.
Chief Administrative Officer Scott Cassanova told the On Your Side Investigators our call was the first he’d heard of complaints. He says students have numerous channels to voice their concerns, including a hotline where calls can remain anonymous.
He says corporate HR was aware an instructor left, but two others were supposed to cover the classes. Cassavova also says finding a replacement for such a specialized field can be difficult.
After WREG’s phone call, Cassanova did some digging, and admitted there had been “spotty coverage” of the class at times. He also said campus leaders never notified corporate of the lapses.
Cassanova says they are now refunding tuition for that class and offering supplemental classes for free.
He also says they hired a new instructor this week. Cassanova also added that they can cater training and courses to make up for any skills students feel like they’re lacking.
He said, ultimately, “We want what’s best for students.”
Vatterott has faced similar complaints across the country. A Missouri woman was recently awarded more than $2 million by a jury after she sued the school over its enrollment practices. Vatterott is appealing.
Also, a former Vatterott employee in Shelby County filed a federal lawsuit against the company after she said one of the Memphis campuses was falsifying transcripts. That case was dismissed.