HAMMOND, Ill. — Students who enrolled at a small education facility in Hammond, Ind., did not receive the certification they were hoping for and have lost money after the abruptly facility closed. The owner has left without a trace.
A-Tech Academy is an Indiana state certified program. It was listed as a pharmacy and certified nursing assistant program. By all accounts, the program had all the proper certification.
But initially, students said the start of classes were delayed repeatedly. Then, on the official first day, students said the entered an empty building.
Students WGN Investigates spoke with paid about $1,000 to start the courses.
The business owner collected tuition from students before she closed the school. The case had Hammond police investigating, the prosecutor’s office looking at charges and students trying to get her money back. All without results.
WGN Investigates attempted to track down the owner at her list of addresses from Indiana to Illinois, but no luck. The business owner has had other court cases in the past but none disqualified her from getting a license to run a program in Indiana. WGN Investigates found she had several misdemeanor charges for check deception. A judge dismissed two of them and she was found guilty in another. A judge also levied fines for two cases of driving on a suspended license and without registration. And the most recent civil case is pending for failing to pay rent on the Hammond business.
Police told some students it’s not a criminal case but a civil matter.
When WGN Investigates reached out to the Indiana board that approves all programs like this, they said they “make those decisions on a case by case basis.” Currently, there’s nothing in writing that details civil cases as an obstacle to running a training course in Indiana.
Could it happen again? The business owner would have to re-apply for a state license to run another program. Since the Indiana Board looks at every license individually, it’s not clear if she could be approved again in the future despite what happened with her Hammond facility.
Police said those who have been victims of a situation like this should file a complaint with the state board so that they have a record of it. In most states, including Illinois, a civil case would not keep someone from attaining a state certification to teach. State boards are more concerned with criminal records.