Students paid thousands, say school left them with nothing

Students paid thousands, say school left them with nothing (Photo: KUTV)

WEST VALLEY CITY, Utah (KUTV) Students say they're out thousands of dollars, and have nothing to show for it, after the closure of a school that had pledged a year of training in medical assisting.

"We just deserve justice," Melanie Bermejo said. She told 2News she lined up close to $12,000 in loans for classes at Ibero-American College. "Pretty much no curriculum, no set schedule; the teachers they stopped coming."

The school was purchased as a for-profit institution in 2015 by Juan Ruiz, former chair of the local Latino Chamber of Commerce.

In the span of less than 2 years, Ibero-American had been in 4 different locations---East of downtown Salt Lake City, in South Salt Lake, in West Valley City, and back to Salt Lake in the Glendale area.

"My first paycheck bounced," Shari Sandberg, a medical assistant who taught at Ibero-American said. "The checks would not clear."

She said Ruiz still owes her about $1,300.

The Utah Attorney General's Office, on behalf of the state Division of Consumer Protection, has filed a lawsuit against Ruiz, alleging "the school failed to provide the promised instruction to students."

It said students complained to the division, saying "entire courses were not provided, classroom supplies were often expired or did not exist, students could not qualify to take certification exams, and transcripts and tax documents were not provided."

Thursday afternoon, Ruiz said it was "regulation" that doomed the school.

"The students are right in feeling the way they feel," he said. "The school did everything we could to stay open."

Ruiz said Ibero-American lost its accreditation, and had to close, but insisted the students got what they paid for, and that he doesn't owe them any money.

"We serviced the students with all of the classes that were part of that tuition," he said, adding 16 students were in the medical assisting program.

Ruiz said he still has the Ibero-American name, wants to offer English as a Second Language and GED instruction, but right now has no students.

The state's lawsuit said in late May, it received complaints from two students about the schools GED program.

"Specifically, they complained that the program was much shorter than represented, and that only one subject was covered, rather than the five that were promised," the lawsuit stated. "One student demanded a refund from Ruiz, which Ruiz refused to provide."

Ruiz insisted he has more supporters than detractors.

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