Friday, August 12, 2005

College faces
more complaints

Accusations mount against the
troubled pharmacy school, which
announced earlier it will close

Complaints from students of the embattled Hawaii College of Pharmacy have surged following the school's announcement this week that it would shut down.

The Hawaii Office of Consumer Protection received 24 more complaints against the college by midday yesterday, bringing to 58 the number of students who have filed complaints against the fledgling college. The state consumer protection office has accused the college of illegally misleading prospective students.

The new complaints came as state Circuit Judge Sabrina McKenna granted the college permission yesterday to provide back pay for staff who had been unpaid since last week, when McKenna froze the assets of the college's parent company, Pacific Educational Services Co. of Nevada, and its founders, Denise Criswell and David Monroe.

On Wednesday, McKenna extended the asset freeze until the resolution of a lawsuit the state filed against the college based on complaints from students. After the Wednesday ruling, college officials said the school would close because it did not have access to money needed to cover operating expenses.

The state's suit alleges that the college misled prospective students about the college's affiliations and accreditation before school started last fall. It asks the court to order the school and its founders to pay back students their $28,000 tuition to attend the school last year, plus interest.

The Office of Consumer Protection said it was necessary to freeze the assets to ensure there would be enough money to pay the students back if the state wins the suit.

Also yesterday, McKenna allowed the school to continue to pay three key employees in charge of student records and school finances.

However, the judge did not approve additional money for Criswell, Monroe and H.A. Hasan, who had been earning $200,000 as dean of the pharmacy college.

The judge also did not release additional money to cover the college's legal fees.

The Office of Consumer Protection still must prove its allegations in court before students can receive any restitution. McKenna gave lawyers for the college and the state two weeks to settle the matter out of court before the case continues later this month.

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