Trade School Chain Shuts Down

A for-profit group in Oregon and Washington State -- facing several investigations -- shut  down suddenly at the end of last week.
March 16, 2005

The seven campuses of the Business Career Training Institute shut down at the end of last week, leaving students confused and regulators angry in Oregon and Washington State.

BCTI, as it was known, promoted itself as a school to prepare people for jobs in the technology industry. But state officials questioned whether it was doing that.

An Oregon investigation found that the BCTI advertising was misleading and that many of the graduates who found jobs -- after paying more than $20,000, typically with federal student loans, for the program -- ended up in the fast food industry or in other positions unrelated to the supposed training.

Ray Lindley, who monitors trade schools for the Oregon Department of Education, said that the jobs students were getting, "they could have gotten without attending." Lindley's office placed BCTI on probation earlier this year, citing violations of state education laws. BCTI had notified his department that it would present a plan to deal with the problems that had been identified, but that plan never arrived, Lindley said.

He said that BCTI did extensive recruiting among low-income individuals, and that much of the education offered involved "soft skills," like working in an office and preparing for a job interview. He said that those skills may well have been valuable, but that they did not match the promises BCTI made about its education.

Lindley said that he did not expect BCTI to return. He said that school officials apparently sold off all of their computer equipment over the weekend.

Calls to BCTI officers were not returned. Bob Goff, a lawyer in Seattle who represents BCTI, declined to comment.

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