Meeting Minutes - December 13, 2017

Advisory Council for Licensed Private Career Schools

116 W 32nd Street, 5th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10001

Council Members and Ex-officios Present:

  • Michael Hatten                    - Chairman      New York Automotive & Diesel Institute
  • Rabbi Yerachmiel Barash    - Member        Cope Institute
  • Anthony Civitano                 - Member        NYS Beauty School Association
  • Vincent Ferrara                    - Member        Ferrara Beauty School
  • Jay Fund                              - Member        Hunter Business School
  • Laura Weymouth                 - Member        Ridley-Lowell Schools
  • Dr. James Devaney             - Member        American Higher Education Development Corp.
  • Diane Gustard                     - Ex-Officio      Office of the State Comptroller

State Education Department:

  • Kevin Smith                         - Ex-officio,     Deputy Commissioner, ACCES
  • Dr. Richard Rose                 - Director,       BPSS

Introduction of the Council & Overview of the Meeting Agenda and Protocol:

Hatten, ask Advisory Council members and audience participants to turn down cell phones and talk clearly for recording purposes. Hatten advised that Council members and Ex Officio members will discuss varies topics on the agenda.  Hatten informed the audience members that they will be able to comment and ask questions at the end of the meeting.

Approval of the Minutes from 6/21/2017 & 9/22/2017 Meeting

There was a motion to approve the June 21 and September 22, 2017 minutes as presented. Moved by Jay Fund, second Vincent Ferrara, unanimously approved.

BPSS Update and Status Report: Deputy Commissioner Kevin Smith, ACCES and Director BPSS Dr. Richard Rose:

Hatten: Members, you have in your packet, 4 of the guidance guidelines introduced by the BPSS, in order.

Rose:  There has been 4 policy guidelines posted since the last time we met. 

  • The first one concerns the organization of student records once a school closes.  There is a statutory requirement on the maintenance of student records for 20 years and for what happens to those records if a school closes. There is a requirement in statute for the school to have a record management plan.
  • The second one is a policy on what constitutes a High School Diploma, High School Equivalency and Ability to Benefit. We’ve had numerous questions over the last year on what qualifies for a high school diploma, how do you know whether what a student presents are high school diplomas.  This guideline seeks to provide the most comprehensive guidance to assist school directors.
  • The third policy is on Voluntary School Closures.  So, if you're going to close, this guidance provides a straight forward process on what needs to be accomplished. A voluntary school closure doesn't erase or exempt past dues fees or fines.
  • The final policy guideline is on Student suspension.  This one comes out of some questions and concerns about actions taken by schools. A school is going to have a policy for your school providing the conditions and process for suspensions.

BPSS is currently working on some additional policy guidelines covering other topics which need greater clarity.  These include:   Deferred Tuition Arrangements; Transfers of ownership; Advertising; Student Arbitration clauses; Allied health programs, and Additional locations.

Smith: Apologize for being late. I was up the street, another meeting this morning, so I'm glad to be here… I wanted to speak briefly about the situation with backfilling BPSS positions.  I represent 712 ACCES employees in New York state education department.  The department has an upward of 200 waivers that are pending.  BPSS currently has five of those fill waivers.  These are called backfill, in that they fill a current position which was vacated due to retirement or promotion.  A backfield waiver is more likely to be approved then a new waiver.  Still the process takes a undefined period of time depending upon the priorities assigned both internally and across the street.

I think state government is being understandably conservative about what the budget looks like and what those of us on the federally funded side of the equation are going to look like in the next six, eight, nine months.  So, we have significant uncertainty in terms of the federal budget for Voc Rehab and adult education. They're both federally funded.

Ferrara: A number of years ago advertising was really more of an issue with kind of on the honor system now, which was correct, which unfortunately there were so many schools now, different languages.  Maybe it would be a good idea to send out something to a school that says that if you are going to advertise in a different language that maybe you have to submit an affidavit to BPSS, swearing that this is what is said in that language so that you know, you don't need any more work review anything. But maybe if we prevented people from putting school advertising out in languages that nobody has reviewed.

Hatten: Would you like a broader discussion on that?  I'd like to offer a few suggestions on this topic. And so, advertising to me is, you put an ad in the paper and maybe on a radio.   But advertising has expanded in recent years and include social media, we see different levels of media and access to the internet, all sorts of things that I've had to discuss with the bureau regarding advertising and responsibility. So, from my perspective, whatever is generated in a policy guideline has to require in some way, shape or form that the institution is responsible for what appears on the Internet social media platforms that I know that are out there and that the school is directly responsible for that content.

One of the things that the bureau should be thinking about is the field of advertising.  I would suggest that Council members provide their suggestions to the Bureau.  I also think it would be a good idea to redouble our efforts with the NYC Consumer Protection Agency and see what we can do to hold institutions accountable for their advertising.

Committee Reports:

Hatten: Council appointments.  The process for replacement of Council members and appointments of other council members still sits with the Governor’s appointments office.  I have thought that it would be good to have a student also appointed to the council.  So, I would suggest that if there is an institution that has a recent graduate that wants to get involved with the Council, please refer them to me.

I just want to sum up my part of the agenda.  For me personally professionally and you know a lot of terrific relationships that I have responsibilities in another part of higher education. Those duties take precedence over everything because my students come first.  Please continue serving and help Frank Talty as he moves into this chair.

I have never really interacted with a more prepared Bureau Director than Dr. Richard Rose.

As a final comment, I going to say it again, I have been involved in this for 47 years, there have been a lot of good Deputy Commissioners in my time, we have a terrific Board of Regents, and we have a Deputy Commissioner now who just “gets it.”  He allows us to do our jobs in a professional way.  Kevin Smith has been the most outstanding Deputy Commissioner that we have in this state.  He has allowed the Bureau and the schools to grow and be successful.

Devaney: The reauthorization of the Higher Education Act - A few years ago, the law was changed to divide higher education into different sections.  This allowed them to pass specific rules of one section and not another.  This is coming back up again and they are trying to get one definition for higher education by the federal government and once they do that all the rules will be the same for the whole industry.  They are doing the markup on that now in Washington.

Talty: The word “training” is not the way to go, but that everything we do is “education.”

Fund:  The trend of proprietary schools is changing.  A part of our job is to understand what they are doing and what innovations are occurring in the sector.  It is very difficult these days; we are spending a lot more on advertising.  It is more expensive to operate as a school resulting in schools closing.  There is an interesting dynamic about the enrollments, including closures, mergers, and other changes, as enrollments are down across all post-secondary education.  It is not just hitting us but is a change of values.  If we hold ourselves up to a new standard of innovative curriculums, then we will have a unique value as opposed to colleges which charge $40,000 or $50,000 a year.  The traditional proprietary school is a smaller part of the market; the more innovative programs are the place where growth will be found.  This is where the coding schools have shown us the possibility of growth.  We must reevaluate our business plans, to maintain the skills training/education, critical for trades, but also look at the growth areas.

Hatten:  Institutions are experiencing some tough times in terms of unemployment rate.  If you have an institution that is high quality, then that school will be in demand.  If you have an institution that is just muddling along (let the grass grow under your feet), then you really need to take a second look.  I couldn’t remember a college closing until Dowling.  The two parts of the formula are the unemployment rate and what you are offering and how relevant it is.  It is out there for us to, because the practitioners in this sector are smart people, very talented.  You must have energy and reach out.

Devaney: This could be a golden age for our school system.  We can do in weeks what colleges take years to develop and implement.  If we are willing to make the changes that are necessary.  If we bite the bullet and jump on the needs of the client, I know that there is money out there.   We can change to make it happen. 

Hatten:  Any other Council comments?  I would like to discuss the ATB Eligible Career  Pathway Program – This program continues to grow and show promise.  No issues have come up in the federal audits regarding ATB.  The program continues to move forward.  If you are able to place students who came into your school without a high school diploma or high school equivalency, then this program should be considered for your students.

I am willing to offer our curriculum to anyone who interested.  I’m telling you that you can be successful, very successful.

Ferrara: I took advantage of your offer and have gotten the curriculum from BPSS.  There are still some issues that impact my sector.  My accrediting agency is generally opposed to it but looks at the hour’s structure.  We need the right credential to teach this.  My sector doesn’t generally have that.  But the hour structure may make this possible.  It is a difficult thing to do but is very important thing to do.  There is a whole sector of students who really want to come to school, but in my sector, there is a real challenge.  I want to thank Mike for your help.  I want to get this done by next year.

 Fund: Accreditation – The paperwork process is extremely burdensome, especially attempting to move to Middle States.

Ferrara: The paperwork is both repetitive and redundant.

Hatten: Is there anything that we can do to help?

Ferrara:  What I have looked for is the ability to have that TASC training, but not have to do it in my school.  I am looking for something that is cost effective and close by.  I looked at Touro and Bramson Ort, but Touro turned me down and Bramson Ort, is out of business.

Smith:  ACCES is willing and interested in helping in this regard.  We have Adult Education programs that may provide some assistance.  I will be in touch with our staff to have them reach out to you about how to coordinate especially for the potential cosmetology students.

The next Advisory Council meeting will be scheduled for some time in mid-March.