YANKTON, S.D. (AP) — Six graduates of Mount Marty College are suing the Yankton liberal arts school after learning its new medical program failed to earn accreditation, preventing them from becoming licensed nurse practitioners.
The liberal arts college learned May 19 the program would be denied accreditation by the Commission on Collegiate Nursing Education, which was five months after the first class in the program graduated.
The Argus Leader reported (http://argusne.ws/1ijVUPV) that those 18 students and another graduate from May now cannot be licensed as nurse practitioners. They can still complete coursework at a different school to earn an accredited degree.
"If plaintiffs want to work as nurse practitioners, they will have to pay for and retake all of the classes that will not transfer to other schools that have an accredited nurse-practitioner program," the lawsuit says.
Six of the 19 graduates sued Friday in Minnehaha County, a day after the college announced the issues with accreditation.
The school failed to disclose in its marketing materials that it didn't obtain pre-approval from the accrediting agency and "implied" that the program was accredited, the lawsuit argues. The students learned it was not accredited after being accepted, taking out student loans and starting classes.
Susan Kaslow, the school's vice president of academic affairs, told the Argus that the accreditation decision has been "devastating" for the graduates.
"They have kids, they have bills," she said. "These aren't your typical 18- to 22-year-old college students."
The college has been trying to find other schools that will allow the graduates to transfer credits and fill in coursework to earn post master's certificates, which would allow them to be licensed as practitioners.
The college could appeal the accreditation denial, but an appeal proceeding wouldn't allow the institution to present evidence of improvements, Kaslow said, so the school intends to apply for re-accreditation, an 18-month process.