Connecticut sues shuttered nursing school Stone Academy: ‘A textbook case of consumer deception’
The state of Connecticut on Thursday sued a for-profit nursing school that abruptly shut its campuses in East Hartford, Waterbury, and West Haven, after state regulators began investigating.
The suit names Stone Academy, owner Joseph Bierbaum, and a Bridgeport art school he also owned, Paier College.
“Stone promised hands-on training from industry leaders, an education that would position students to become licensed practical nurses in less than two years. These were lies,” Connecticut Attorney General William Tong said. “This is a textbook case of consumer deception.”
Tong accuses Stone and Bierbaum of failing to provide required hands-on clinical training, hiring unqualified instructors, and enrolling more students than they could teach.
Tong said the lawsuit seeks civil penalties of up to $5,000 per violation, which will ultimately total millions of dollars, s well as money for the nursing students.
Some students have been unable to finish their degrees after Stone Academy abruptly shut down in February.
Tong said some students failed licensing tests after being given substandard training at the school.
Tong said when problems emerged at Stone Academy, Bierbaum transferred money and resources from that institution to Paier College in Bridgeport.
The lawsuit is baseless, said an attorney representing Stone Academy.
“It is sadly not surprising that the State’s efforts are devoted to preparing a baseless lawsuit, instead of helping the many vulnerable students,” attorney Perry Rowthorn said in a statement.
Stone Academy representatives blamed state regulators for the students' problems finishing their education.
Rowthorn said Stone Academy’s efforts have been focused on helping students.
Stone Academy and Bierbaum are accused of using deceptive advertising for their own gain, according to State Department of Consumer Protection Deputy Commissioner Shirley Skyers-Thomas.
“We were shocked when news of these allegations were revealed,” Skyers-Thomas said. “We thought about the families. We thought about the individuals. We thought about the thousands of dollars that they invested, their financial resources, their time resources, all in pursuit of a new career path.”