Technical college unexpectedly closes its doors
Students attending Laurus Technical Institute were taken by surprise when the school on Monday announced it was shutting down for good.
President and CEO Terry Hess said the closure of the for-profit school, which has three campuses including one on Church Street in Decatur, was due to dwindling enrollment. He said the enrollment drop was “due a change in federal guidelines, instituted two years ago, which significantly impacted the trade school industry.”
“The guidelines included new qualification standards for students seeking support to attend trade schools which, in turn negatively affected annual enrollment at schools,” he said.
A review of federal court records also show the school recently settled a sexual harassment lawsuit brought by four employees. Court records show the matter was resolved in February for an undisclosed sum. The school officially closed on March 23.
The lawsuit accuses Hess of working to protect a supervisor accused of sexually harassing the four women who filed the suit. The allegations also came to the attention of the the National Labor Relations board after Hess instituted a “no gossip” policy for employees, according to an article published on Benefitspro.com. The NLRB ruled against Laurus, according to the article.
Hess said the recent settlement of the lawsuit was not a factor in the school’s decision to close.
“The lawsuit had no effect,” he said. He said “we are not permitted to disclose any details” of the settlement.
Here is Hess’ full press release regarding the closure of the technical school:
Effective March 23, Laurus Technical Institute will close and cease operations at its three campuses located in the Metro Atlanta area. Laurus has been in business for twenty two years and provided career training to the Atlanta community and region. The school, licensed and accredited by State and Federal agencies, graduated thousands of students through its medical, HVAC, and welding training programs. Through its employment services, the school assisted its graduates to secure career opportunities after graduation.
The school’s closing is a misfortune and was caused by several factors. A primary contributor was a change in federal guidelines, instituted two years ago, which significantly impacted the trade school industry. The guidelines included new qualification standards for students seeking support to attend trade schools which, in turn negatively affected annual enrollment at schools.
For the past year and a half, Laurus aggressively sought to realign its business model to address these changes and enrollment declines. In order to maintain its level of educational services, the owners exhaustively employed measures that included significant expense reductions, marketing strategies to increase enrollment, substantial infusion of capital, personal funds, and communications with potential investors. Falling short with these actions left the owners with no further options and has triggered bankruptcy proceedings for the schools.
According to Terry Hess President, CEO of Laurus Technical Institute “we are totally devastated about this situation and the impact on the lives of our students, faculty, and staff. As late as last week we were working around the clock to secure solutions but it did not come to pass. At this point, our primary concern is the well-being of our students and to provide opportunities to continue their education at other institutions. To that end, we are actively working with other trade schools to transfer credit and allow students to continue training. The Georgia commission is assisting us in preparing answers to a number of frequently asked questions to address student concerns. We are also committed to our exceptional teaching and administrative staff, many of which have numerous years of tenure with Laurus. We will be seeking new employment opportunities through our contacts and networking activities.”
As we finalize arrangements and solidify details about students’ options, we will post updates by 12 pm daily beginning Wednesday, March 25th at www.laurus.edu/teachout. In addition, students may firstname.lastname@example.org with questions regarding their personal circumstances. We are also working to establish a hotline for students to call so we may address their questions.
According to Hess, “the closing of Laurus is the hardest and saddest decision my family and I have ever made. Our family and our staff have poured their hearts and souls into building Laurus over twenty two years. We are extremely proud of the thousands of students our wonderful teachers and staff have educated.”