New York Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli says the state’s for-profit career colleges see “alarmingly little oversight” and some are operating without licenses.
In a report released this week, DiNapoli also said half of the schools audited by his office ignore reporting requirements on job placement and graduation rates.
“There is alarmingly little oversight of private career schools in New York, leaving too many young adults vulnerable to false promises,”DiNapoli said. “Schools have been allowed to operate without a licence for years and some investigations into complaints were left open for 10 years or more. Millions of dollars and the education of thousands of New Yorkers are at stake. The State Education Department has taken some steps to tighten oversight but too many students may be getting taken for a ride if more isn’t done soon.”
The schools are technically under the supervision of the State Department of Education, and DiNapoli took the agency to task for its laxity.
In several instances, auditors found that when unlicensed schools were identified and contacted, SED took no action if the school did not respond.
When career schools apply for a licence, the law requires SED to render a final decision within one year. Auditors found that of 148 applications, 66 (45 per cent) were in pending status for more than one year and 20 applications were pending for at least two years.
DiNapoli found 18 colleges that appeared to be operating without a licence. The report doesn’t name any of the schools in violation of state rules.
He also noted the SED’s scarily ancient technology platform:
SED’s management information systems are based on a mainframe application developed in 1988 that has limited functionality. About 20 databases have been developed over the years for various elements of the program, but they are not integrated with each other or with the mainframe. As a result, it is difficult to obtain all information about any particular school.
The audit covered 491 institutions, a little less than half of which were in New York City.
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