TWC challenges American Commercial College certification

CORRECTION 11-4-2011: Our original web headline said that ACC's certification had already been revoked. This was incorrect. TWC has filed a letter of intent to revoke but has not actually revoked the certificates. KCBD regrets the error.
New details have been released about a separate investigation involving the Lubbock and Abilene campuses of American Commercial College.


Wednesday morning federal agents working with the U.S. Department of Education raided both campuses and the Lubbock corporate office, confiscating items and taking pictures. The U.S. Attorney General's Office was in charge of the investigation, but would not release any details related to the raid.


On Thursday a source close to the school told KCBD the investigation deals with financial records - federal student loans and other types of federal aid. This same source led us to a different investigation being conducted by the Texas Workforce Commission.


We obtained a letter that the TWC sent to the president of ACC on Oct. 14. The letter was a notice of intent to revoke certificates of approval of both the Lubbock and Abilene campus, trying to shut down the schools for good.


The letter lists a variety of state violations related to the school's operation, including:


• Falsification of student employment reports


• ACC employees forging student signatures on required documents


• ACC employees changing grades from failing to passing


• Falsifying GED certificate verifications and accepting unaccredited secondary education degrees for admission eligibility. 


Whitney Guthrie graduated from Abilene's ACC campus in April of 2010. That same month she became an employee at the college working as the student coordinator. Guthrie says she saw these state violations happen right in front of her eyes.


"I quit three weeks later when I realized all the drama that was going on, all the crookedness," said Guthrie.


Guthrie says Lubbock ACC officials often came to the Abilene campus for audits and to counsel her on how to perform her job. One of her responsibilities was to record the student's grades given by the teachers. "They told me that you do not give anybody an F. You always give them a D and ask them to make up the work, but they would never make the work up. They would just pass them and go on," said Guthrie.


Guthrie says some of those students who should have failed were getting certified in medical assisting. "My clinical teacher, if you didn't come she would try to flunk you, but he office would override her and pass those students," she said.


Guthrie also said she witnessed officials forging documents and found students without GED's attending the college even though they didn't' have the proper requirements.


She currently has a lawsuit against the college and says she feels cheated as a former student and employee of ACC.  "I paid almost $13,000 dollars to go to school here, and its nothing but a joke. They're screwing people out of money," she said.


As far as the TWC investigation goes, the letter says the Lubbock and Abilene campuses can no longer accept new students. Current students will have the choice between a refund or finishing out their program.


Click here to read the full text of the letter.


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