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Cash for Course Credit? Regulators Target For-Profit School

by Eric S. Peterson
- Posted // 2013-11-12 -

The for-profit Northridge Learning Center offers Utah students the chance to get caught up with high school work and stay on track to graduation. But according to a citation filed by the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, many of the center’s teachers and staff lacked licenses and appropriate training and, on numerous occasions, students earned in a matter of just hours the same amount of credit that traditional students would gain only after taking semester-long courses.

On Nov. 8, the Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed an administrative citation against Northridge Learning Center (NLC) for $92,500 for dozens of violation of the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act. According to the citation, the school, which has branches in Salt Lake City, West Jordan, Layton and Brigham City, accepted fees from students to issue them course workbooks that the students would complete and then be tested on for course credit. According to the citation, NLC violated consumer law in 18 separate incidences since 2010. In many instances, students were rewarded with double the course credit, and in numerous cases, it took students only a matter of days or even hours to pass a course.

According to the citation, a Viewmont High student enrolled with NLC in June at 9 a.m., bought two math-course packets and, at 4:10 p.m. that day, NLC faxed his high school a transcript awarding him .25 in credit for each course. In another incident, a student at Viewmont completed a .25 credit General Financial Literacy course through NLC, but when a school counselor told the student that .50 credits were required for graduation, the student called NLC and, “35 minutes approximately thereafter ... the school received an allegedly corrected faxed copy of the student’s transcript from NLC awarding .50 credit for the course,” according to the citation.

The citation points out that, according to NCL’s own policies, high school students were not to be awarded more than .25 for completing a course and were not to be allowed to take more than two course workbooks at a time, though this was allowed numerous times.

In 2010, a Davis High student who had a 1.04 grade-point average completed 26 NCL courses in a three-month period, checking out multiple books at a time to soon achieve a 4.0 GPA, thanks to NCL. In 2013, according to the citation, a Viewmont High student received double the credit for three NCL courses taken, and when school counselors asked about it, the student said “he received a ‘two for one’ for his work at no additional cost.”

Justin Bond, a partner in NCL, says that he couldn't comment substantively on the charges, having only received the citation on Nov. 8. He did say, however, that he and his associates would contest the citation at an administrative hearing. “We're going to ask for a hearing and talk to them about what we do and, hopefully, get everything cleared up,” Bond says.

*Image courtest of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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