CT Office of Higher Education ask students of Marinello Schools - WFSB 3 Connecticut

CT Office of Higher Education ask students of Marinello Schools of Beauty to contact them

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EAST HARTFORD, CT (WFSB) -

An embattled national beauty school with locations in Connecticut is closing its doors and now, state officials are looking to help students affected by the closure. 

The Marinello Schools of Beauty notified the Connecticut Office of Higher Education that the Connecticut locations would be closed on starting on Friday.

The school had locations in Torrington, Meriden, East Hartford, Willimantic, Hamden, Fairfield and Niantic. There were nearly 500 students enrolled in the Connecticut schools.

The Marinello Schools of Beauty in Connecticut are regulated by the Office of Higher Education.

Executive Director of the Office of Higher Education Jane A. Ciarleglio said Marinello asked that the schools to stay open until Friday, “so that students may obtain paperwork and information on their options.”

“As a precaution, however, we urge students to register on our website to provide us with complete information on the status of their coursework.  In the event that students are unable to deal with Marinello directly, we can provide them with copies of their transcripts, process tuition reimbursements, and facilitate transfer to other schools once we have records in hand. We are currently working with school officials to obtain electronic and paper copies of student records,” Ciarleglio said in a statement.

Connecticut students are urged to register their most current contact information by clicking here or by calling the agency’s Education & Employment Information Center at 800-842-0229.

The closure appears to be related to investigations by the U.S. Department of Education, which claimed to have uncovered serious violations.

Federal investigators said Marinello knowingly requested federal aid for students based on invalid high school diplomas, underawarded Title IV aid to students, charged students for excessive overtime and engaged in other acts of misrepresentation.

"Our students depend on higher education institutions to prepare them for careers through a quality education. Unfortunately, some schools violate their trust through deceptive marketing practices and defraud taxpayers by giving out student aid inappropriately," said Undersecretary Ted Mitchell. "These unscrupulous institutions use questionable business practices or outright lie to both students and the federal government."

The department said it was denying recertification applications for Marinello locations in California and Nevada.

It also placed all of the schools on a heightened cash monitoring system, which it called additional oversight to safeguard taxpayer dollars.

The school, however, warned that the actions would force it to fold.

A spokesperson for Marinello said the department began withholding funds from the school two months ago, despite the school's repeated requests to learn details of the allegations. The school was finally notified of the allegations on Monday.

The spokesperson said an appeal was in the works.

"We repeatedly informed the department that its actions could lead to the closure of the schools and it refused to provide any information about its concerns," a statement read. "This complete lack of due process has caused Marinello irreparable harm."

Marinello claimed the department didn't give it any time to disprove the allegations and instead chose to cut off the funding.

We object strongly to the lack of due process the department has afforded, which in turn has put our operations at risk," the statement continued. "If the department is convinced of its position then it should have provided us with due process to contest its findings."

The school said the investigation has caused a disruption to about 4,300 students and impacted 800 jobs.

Marinello has been in the spotlight before.

Almost three years ago, students told Eyewitness News that they paid thousands of dollars for tuition only to be taught by substitutes and learn things on their own. They also reported graduation delays, which prompted more fees after a grace period.

A couple of the branches in Connecticut were investigated by the state at the time.

Eyewitness News viewers have been emailing and calling the newsroom to report that the Marinello Schools of Beauty are closing this week, leaving students wondering about their tuition.

In a statement, Senator Richard Blumenthal said “Marinello promised their students education and training that would lead to career success, and those students should not be made to pay the price for the school’s reprehensible fraud and abuse. Students must now be made whole, with loans forgiven and feasible pathways to complete their programs elsewhere. The U.S. Department of Education acted appropriately to protect students from Marinello’s egregious actions, and the Department is now ready and willing to provide loan forgiveness to Marinello students. I urge all impacted students to reach out to the Connecticut Office of Higher Education which is working to secure credit transfer opportunities, or to apply for loan forgiveness through the U.S. Department of Education if they do not wish to continue their programs of study. I call on the U.S. Department of Justice now to prosecute any violations of criminal law as vigorously and promptly as possible."

In a statement, Senator Chris Murphy said "

Unfortunately, Marinello Schools is just the latest case of fraudulent, for-profit school systems lying to their students and hanging them out dry,” said Murphy. “While I applaud the Department of Education for suspending Marinello’s access to federal dollars in light of deceptive enrollment and financial aid disbursement practices, the school’s abrupt decision to close means that nearly 500 students enrolled at 7 campuses across Connecticut today are left holding the bag with thousands of dollars in student debt and incomplete credentials.” Murphy continued to say, “The Department of Education has the ability to discharge all federal student loan debt for these students, and I will do everything I can to encourage them to expedite the process so that these borrowers can get their money – and their right to a real education – back in their own hands. I’ve been battling for-profit schools ever since I was elected to the Senate, and Congress has not yet done its part to take them on. It’s time for Congress to pass my Students Before Profits Act and crack down on these fraudulent executives.”

Copyright 2016 WFSB (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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