Minutes of the New York State Proprietary School Advisory Council Meeting
December 10, 2008
Hosted by: Institute of Culinary Education
Mike Hatten, Chair
Vincent Ferrara, Member
Rabbi Yerachmiel Barash, Member
Anthony Casale, Member
Carole Yates (BPSS), Ex-officio Member
James Dees (CPB-Outreach Education), for Lisa Harris (CPB), Ex-officio Member
James Devaney, Member
Dennis Buckley (OSC), Ex-officio Member
Matthew Downey (HESC), Ex-officio Member
Lisa Harris (CPB), Ex-officio Member
Joseph Frey (SED), Associate Commissioner for the Office of Higher Education
Kristi Castro, School Director for Mahanaim
Loretta O’Connell, School Director for Arrojo Cosmetology School
Mike Hatten called the meeting to order at 10:40 AM.
Anthony Casale made the motion to accept the minutes of the September 2008 meeting, Vincent Ferrara seconded, and motion carried - approved.
James Dees updated the Council on the work that the Consumer Protection Board (CPB) and the Bureau of Proprietary School Supervision (BPSS) have been doing to get the word out about the dangers of attending unlicensed schools. Both agencies approved a press release in September (attached 53KB), an unlicensed school brochure (English version attached 231KB) and a PowerPoint training program. The CPB translated the unlicensed school brochure into Spanish (173KB) and Chinese (142KB) and is in the process of mailing copies to all proprietary schools. Copies are also available on the CPB website and via telephone, and will be sent to BPSS, to be added to their website. The CPB website is: www.nysconsumer.gov and BPSS website is: www.acces.nysed.gov/bpss. Copies will also be placed in unemployment offices, based upon feedback received from the NYS Department of Labor.
Monica Borden reported that BPSS has received a Korean translation (134KB), courtesy of the new school, Mahanaim. A copy of the translation was sent to CPB for their website, and will be posted on BPSS’ in the near future, along with the English (231KB), Chinese (142KB) and Spanish (173KB) language versions. Monica requested volunteers from the proprietary school community to translate the pamphlets in Russian (169KB) and French/Creole. Vincent Ferrara volunteered to have it translated into Russian (169KB) , and BPSS is still seeking ideas on the French/Creole translation.
Distribution will currently be limited to mailing copies of brochures, in all available languages, to proprietary schools. Schools are asked to copy what they need and to distribute them as they see fit. James and Monica also welcomed ongoing feedback from the schools on possible distribution ideas. James mentioned that local community groups are welcome to request pamphlets, as well as presentations.
Mike Hatten requested that proprietary school information be more readily available on the CPB website . He indicated that it takes numerous clicks to find that information. James stated that he would bring Mike’s concerns to management.
Mike then welcomed Associate Commissioner Joe Frey to the meeting.
Joe Frey thanked the Advisory Council and the New York State Beauty School Association for their assistance with BPSS’ pending legislation, and expressed his pleasure with the solid working relationships that these groups have formed with BPSS. He also thanked the schools for their efforts in this industry and reinforced the fact they need to stay strong as this sector faces new challenges. He also mentioned reading a recent article from The Chronicle of Higher Education (attached 100KB), which states that the for-profit sector may actually see growth during this period of economic instability.
Joe also stated that he has received some disturbing telephone calls recently regarding allegations that members of the BPSS investigative staff have been showing racial preference in dealing with schools in this sector. He reinforced his complete faith in the BPSS staff, who are required to handle difficult and sensitive tasks every day.
Joe discussed a process used in complaint investigations and the internal controls that are set in place: When a complaint is received, the supervising investigator reviews it, assigns the case based upon workload, experience, and whether an investigator has other cases at that school. The investigator then completes an investigation and submits a report up the chain for review. In some cases, additional evidence is uncovered after the initial findings and the initial findings may be overturned upon a second-tier review. Joe stated that he will ask BPSS to add the complaint process to the website.
Joe also shared some statistics:
- In the 2007-2008 state fiscal year, less than 25% of the licensed schools (75 in total) had complaints filed against them.
- Only 3% of the schools had 6 or more complaints filed during the year.
Joe then shared that none of the schools operated by members of the Advisory Council (Global Business School, Global Business Institute, American Training Center, COPE Institute) had complaints filed against them.
He stated that these figures indicate that only a fraction of the licensed schools had serious complaint issues in the 2007-2008 fiscal year. In addition, the number of complaints against unlicensed schools has decreased dramatically.
Joe expressed complete confidence in the BPSS investigation process, and stated that BPSS will continue investigating schools, as usual. He expects BPSS staff to be treated with respect by school staff, and guarantees that schools will continue to be treated with respect by BPSS staff. The BPSS message remains unchanged – BPSS will continue its work with schools and does not base anything on race or ethnicity. Staff will always be collegial and professional.
Joe also mentioned that he was informed that some people in the industry are collecting information on BPSS staff. Since BPSS is a public agency, that is to be expected.
Mike Hatten stated that, back in 1989, the proprietary school industry was full of problems, and that it is also the schools’ responsibility to ensure that the industry stays clean. He stated that he believes the rumors are unfounded and told schools that if they truly believe that there are problems within the Bureau, to send him proof, and he will ensure that BPSS responds.
Joe Frey then discussed the pending legislation, the importance of its passage to both schools and BPSS, and his hopes that schools will work with SED by showing support. BPSS needs to be in a position to meet its mandates and hopes that the legislation will give the Bureau the resources needed to do so. In addition, it is important to provide schools with the ability to implement new programs under a single license.
Anthony Casale asked how SED plans to reintroduce the bill.
Joe Frey responded that SED needs to meet with Assembly member Deborah Glick and members of the Senate.
Mike Hatten stated that the pending legislation addresses current issues and schools need to find ways to support it and assist in getting it passed. He also stated that BPSS cannot continue with the lack of resources it faces, and that the current computer system must be replaced by one that is current and accessible to schools and the public.
Vincent Ferrara asked how the Advisory Council and schools can show support.
Joe Frey responded that once the bill is introduced, he will provide the Advisory Council with information, and will request their official support.
Questions/Comments for Joe Frey from the Audience:
Anthony Civitano, Executive Director of the New York State Beauty School Association, thanked Joe for acknowledging the NYSBSA’s contributions and pledged their full support in moving the legislation forward. He also asked Joe if the Tuition Recovery Account was in jeopardy of being “swept” by the Legislature.
Joe Frey responded that all revenue accounts were swept in SED. A small amount was taken from the TRA, but SED was able to stop the second attempt to sweep it.
Anthony Civitano stated that he heard rumors that Concetta Gallo was no longer with the Bureau and requested clarification.
Joe Frey stated that while Dr. Gallo was no longer with the Bureau and he could not discuss staffing issues with the public, BPSS would continue to have five (5) educators assigned to the schools. The number of Education Team members will not diminish and BPSS will be adjusting and updating education staff assignments to accommodate staffing changes.
Joe mentioned that although money is tighter and travel is being restricted, there currently is no call for staff cuts, although December 16 is the date that the governor will be introducing his preliminary budget, and all accounts (except for federal funds) will be hit. This will include state funds, grants, and revenue accounts.
BPSS General Update and Status Report
Carole Yates relayed the following information to the Council:
- The Fall Directors Course was offered in November, in Albany. Due to budgetary constraints, the Albany staff conducted the entire course, with Marina Pena being the sole NYC staff person and presenting for one day on Investigations. Usually 3-5 NYC staff present at the Course, and spend two days in Albany.
- Bulkan’s Educational Institute, Inc. was a school that had it’s school license renewal denied. They brought an Article 78 against BPSS, however the court returned its verdict, and the BPSS decision was upheld.
- No movement on computer system – BPSS requires a loan from the Division of Budget, in order to fund this project. Due to other budgetary issues that they’re involved in, this is not going to move for a while.
Julina Bazzey, director of Daisley II Home Care Service, Inc., asked why BPSS closes schools instead of charging them a large fee. She is also concerned that when schools close, the students’ certificates become invalid.
Joe Frey responded that it is never the Bureau’s first choice to close a school. Unless fraud is involved, the first option is to negotiate a settlement.
Carole Yates affirmed that as long as the closed school offered approved HHA or CNA programs during the period of licensure, those certificates are valid. If schools are aware of students not being able to use valid certificates, they should contact BPSS. Carole will talk to Department of Health about their stand on closed school certificates. There was also recent legislation passed that requires certified HHAs to be maintained on a registry; however, that mandate was unfunded and until the funds are found, it cannot be implemented. The Attorney General also sent a letter regarding specific schools, advising agencies not to accept certificates – BPSS did not agree with that stand.
Carole also mentioned that in the case of Bulkan’s, the issue is not that of a closed school with valid programs. That school was selling certificates, offering no training, and therefore endangering public health.
Regarding the issue of closing schools, Carole reminded the Council and the audience that it causes the Bureau more work to close a school, but sometimes there is no other option. Due to a recent closure that involved students who made it to the externship, BPSS investigators visit and monitor the externship sites, so that students can complete their training. She also told Julina that she would call her after the meeting and discuss her concerns in detail.
Moshe Wieder addressed Julina Bazzey’s comments by stating that schools which taint the industry are detrimental to all, and must go.
Advisory Council Appointments
There are ten (10) voting members allocated for the Advisory Council. Five (5) of these seats are currently filled (Barash, Casale, Devaney, Ferrara, Hatten), and five (5) need to be filled. There are two Senate appointments available, one Assembly appointment, and one Governor appointment (which must be filled by a student or student advocate). Mike Hatten stated that he has been in close contact with the Appointments Office, but there are other critical issues that are currently higher priorities.
Vincent Ferrara stated that he spoke with Mark Leinung (Assistant Secretary for Education) about the appointment problems at the Coalition conference, and Mr. Leinung offered assistance. He suggested that the Advisory Council send a letter to Mr. Leinung.
Joe Frey volunteered to broker a meeting between the Advisory Council and Mark Leinung.
Mike Hatten stated that he also has spoken to Duffy Palmer (Deputy Secretary for Education) about the issue.
Mike then recognized the Institute for Culinary Education for their efforts, and the fact that one of their students was recently featured on national news (NBC – Channel 4).
Mike then introduced two new school directors and asked them to tell the audience about their schools.
Kristi Castro, director of Mahanaim (www.mahanaim.com ) stated that this school was founded by Pastor Ock Soo Park, of the International Youth Fellowship organization. The mission of Mahanaim is to be a Christian institution that strives to teach students the wisdom of God, cultivating them to become the world's leaders for the next generation. Mahanaim aims to accomplish the will of God through academic programs including Good News Theology; Gracias Music with concentrations in voice, conducting, piano, and strings; and English as a Second Language. Their music program has connections to conductors in St. Petersburg, Russia, and the school has recently offered six public concerts, free to members of the community. The school plans to begin their spring term in February 2009 and their long term goal is to be recognized as a university.
Mike Hatten offered congratulations on behalf of the AC, and commended Kristi for her passion.
Lorretta O’Connell, director of Arrojo Cosmetology School (www.arrojocosmetology.com ), stated that this is a small cosmetology school, located on King Street in the Soho neighborhood. The school is about 5,000 square feet and plans to train only about 16 students per class. They currently have nine students enrolled from out-of-state, and are planning their grand opening on January 19, 2009.
Mike Hatten thanked Loretta, and offered congratulations on behalf of the AC. He also offered advice to both the new directors, as well as the veteran directors present: Know your school, take responsibility for your school, and do not abdicate that responsibility to others.
Anthony Casale asked if proprietary school curricula include information on professional laws for each industry, including illegal scope of practice. He mentioned how teeth whitening is being done in spas.
Carole Yates responded that curricula written for state licensing/certification contains this information and other programs, such as Bartending, do as well. However, she stated that the issue regarding scope of practice would be a good future discussion.
Anthony Casale offered to bring more information on this issue to Mike Hatten’s attention for future discussion
Vincent Ferrara stressed the need for continuing education in skill fields.
Mike Hatten then introduced Richard Simpson, director of Institute of Culinary Education, thanked him for his hospitality for offering his school up for the meeting and providing lunch, and asked him to give the audience a little information on the school.
Richard stated that the school has been in operation for 35 years, has had 27,000 graduates and currently has 750 students. The school takes up floors 4, 5, 6, 12, and 14 in their building on West 23 Street.
Questions from the Audience:
Diane Englehardt, director of Sanford Brown Institute – NYC, asked about housekeeping items due to the departure of Concetta Gallo. Specifically, who should Concetta’s schools contact regarding educational issues?
Carole Yates responded that BPSS has replaced Dr. Gallo, but until the new Education Team member is trained, all inquiries that would normally go to Dr. Gallo, should be sent to Carole. She stated that the new staff member should be working in the New York City office within a few weeks.
Vincent Ferrara told Carole Yates that he would like to speak to her about a refund policy issue that he finds confusing.
Diane Englehardt expressed frustration that it is taking so long to get AC members appointed.
Jay Fund stated that he feels it is important for established school owners/directors to act as mentors to new school owners/directors, and the new schools should be welcomed into the fold.
Vincent Ferrara asked Mike Hatten if the Council members should discuss the applicants who have shown interest in positions on the AC.
Mike told the members that he would forward all resumes to their attention for review.
Anthony Civitano asked if the applicants would know if they are still being considered?
Mike Hatten stated that all resumes had been forwarded to the appointments office, but he could not disclose any conversations that he has had.
Terry Zaleski, Executive Director of the Coalition of New York State Career Schools, said that he received a number of telephone calls from schools over the past week, concerned by the fact that Concetta Gallo was no longer with BPSS. He stated that he is concerned about the fact that there was no formal outreach/notification to schools under her supervision.
Joe Frey responded that he could not discuss specific personnel issues, however BPSS is still working out the details of Dr. Gallo’s replacement, and once that is done, schools will be notified. In the meantime, as schools contact BPSS with concerns, they will be given an option of speaking to another staff person.
Terry then stated that the Coalition had a successful convention in Cooperstown.
Julina Bazzey asked Monica Borden if there will be Refresher Director Courses in the future, and requested that the Bureau consider offering them.
Monica responded that BPSS currently has no conference space in NYC, and if a school wishes to host a refresher course, they can contact Carole Yates to offer their site. She also stated that BPSS is still considering a school license renewal training, which would be offered to approximately 25 schools per quarter. However, space is still an issue, as well as travel restrictions. Until the SED budget is finalized, staff cannot plan any unnecessary travel. She offered to give an update at the next meeting.
Dr. Sylvester Lewis, director of Northshore Career Training, suggested that BPSS offer more technical training programs (TTP) on a small scale.
Vincent Ferrara suggested that BPSS offer a refresher course at the annual Coalition convention.
Anthony Civitano mentioned that BPSS may want to consider offering the refresher course at the New York State Beauty School Association’s annual teacher conference. He also suggested that BPSS adopt preliminary submission criteria and frequently cited issues for use by the schools, in preparation for a renewal visit.
Julina Bazzey asked when the distinction between business and trade schools would be eliminated.
Carole Yates responded that this issue is part of the pending legislation.
With no further questions/comments from the Council or audience, Mike Hatten adjourned the meeting at 1:05pm.