Final Minutes from Advisory Council meeting of July 18, 2007
Members in Attendance:
Michael J. Hatten | Acting Chair
Rabbi Yerachmiel Barash | Member
James M. Devaney | Member
Vincent J. Ferrara | Member
Carole W. Yates | Ex. Officio
Karen Bogucki | Ex. Officio
Call to Order:
Michael Hatten called the meeting to order at 10:40 am. Mr. Hatten welcomed Joseph P. Frey, Associate Commissioner.
Michael Hatten made a motion; seconded by Rabbi Barash to accept the Minutes as prepared by Bill Kahn of GBI; accepted unanimously. Carole Yates will have them posted on the SED website.
Overview of Agenda:
Presented by Michael Hatten.
Carole Yates, BPSS Director, presented an update and status report regarding issues in several areas. SED continues to make personnel changes to the Bureau. The BPSS computer system continues to be developed with continual input regarding design and implementation. Director Yates indicated that the meetings with the Beauty School Association regarding changes to Education Law were productive. She is confident that a final resolution will be completed by October. Several concerns centered on different regulations for ESL institutions and licensed private schools, such as: record keeping, testing levels, curriculum and agent licensing. Regarding licensed schools state-wide, this year there have been 375 complaints to the Bureau. Investigators are finding problems with refunds, attendance records, unsigned enrollment agreements, and unapproved curriculum being taught. Dr. James Devaney stated that we need to advocate for increasing SED’s ability to investigate both licensed and unlicensed schools, while supporting those in compliance. Karen Bogucki, asked what resources were currently available to address Dr. Devaney’s comment. Carole Yates said that special courses and workshops were not being scheduled as the schools that need the most assistance do not attend. Monica Borden, BPSS Licensing Coordinator, added that the Bureau does target problem schools, but cannot require attendance. The consequences for overall non-compliance can be a fine, denial, or loss of license. The question remains, is there a real need for enhanced standards for licensure?
Rabbi Barash, Chair of the Search Committee, has identified five outstanding candidates to fill vacancies on the Council. The appointment process is progressing at a very slow pace.
Associate Commissioner’s Report:
Michael Hatten turned the meeting over to Associate Commissioner Joseph Frey. The Regents’ initiative regarding changes to currently approved ATB entrance exams for degree-granting institutions, will not affect our sector. We are currently “hammering-out” an SED legislative reform initiative with input from the Council, the Coalition and the Beauty School Association. We are encouraged by the efforts of the Coalition to provide courses for Agents, Financial Aid Officers and Directors. Patrick DiRenna suggested that workshops should be mandatory for schools in violation. Dr. Devaney thought that many of the problems emanate from new schools using consultants and not internalizing and understanding the day-to-day application of SED rules and regulations. Sylvester Lewis suggested that SED formalize an on-going “Mentoring” assistance program for all new Directors. Vincent Ferrara suggested that schools with exceptional records be rewarded with a stream-lined license renewal process. Rabbi Barash added that the renewal period could be extended to perhaps ten years. Commissioner Frey will have his staff look at all the concerns and options and will respond in the near future.
Advisory Council Sub-Committee on Unlicensed Schools.
Michael Hatten called on Monica Borden to report on the Advisory Council sub-committee meeting on unlicensed schools. Attendees were presented with draft copies of the Unlicensed School Tips Card.
Three key points were discussed:
- Issue - Unlicensed schools are harming students by offering training in programs that are not approved by SED. There may be safety issues regarding these unlicensed schools. Unlicensed schools are also causing monetary harm to some licensed schools. Many times they are able to offer training that is less expensive, due to the fact that they do not adhere to SED rules and regulations
- Tools – The Consumer Protection Board’s “How to Choose the Right School” flyer has been translated into Chinese, Spanish, Russian, and Korean, and is distributed in ethnic communities to alert students about the consequences associated with attending unlicensed schools. Additionally, local newspapers, affiliated newsletters and PSA’s are being used to inform the public of this issue. BPSS is currently working with private lenders, VESID, NYS Department of Labor, NYC Department of Small Business Services, and NYC Human Resource Administration to ensure that only licensed schools offering approved programs benefit from their funding. We need to explore how the Committee can further assist in this effort.
- Goals - The immediate goal is to inform consumers, thus decreasing the flow of students to unlicensed school. The Committee will consider the revised version of the “How to Choose the Right School” flyer and then discuss it again prior to distribution.
Council Member Comments:
Vincent Ferrara discussed relaxing some of the regulations to identify and license faculty at primarily new immigrant population schools. The Bureau is not in favor of lowering standards as this could harm students, and Monica Borden was concerned about having a dual system. Perhaps SED can streamline the process if the institution in question can demonstrate substantial compliance with rules and regulations.
Michael Hatten shared a concern that students may not have adequate opportunity to access GED® test centers. Carole Yates thought the problem could be attributed to funding. Mr. Hatten thought that perhaps, much like the ATB Independent Test Administrator, the GED® examination could be given at approved schools licensed under Section 5001-5010 of Education Law.
Audience Comments & Questions:
Terry Zaleski, NYS Coalition Executive Director, announced that the Annual Career School Convention will meet between November 14th and November 16th at Danfords on the Sound, Port Jefferson, Long Island. Information is available on the Coalition website: www.coalitionofnewyorkstatecareerschools.com or by calling: (845) 788-5070.
Next Meeting Date:
The next meeting will be held on Wednesday, December 5, 2007.