Students and teachers gathered outside the Sawyer School in Hartford on Wednesday morning, angry over the school’s sudden closure during holiday break.
Students and teachers are frustrated with the lack of answers coming from Academic Enterprises, Inc., the Rhode Island company that runs the Sawyer Schools in both Hartford and Hamden, as well as the Butler Business School in Bridgeport, all of which have shut their doors, kicking a total of 1,200 students out of class.
“I was ready to graduate and then they closed the school,” complained Charlene Brimage, who was trying to get her degree in business.
“I was three classes away from going out on externship and graduating in April,” Arelis Quinones said.
“Our schedules were already out. We were already scheduled for classes,” Don Lanier, an instructor, said.
Some students received a letter telling them class was out permanently, while others heard through social media.
The instructors, including Lanier, received a call from their supervisor over the holidays reporting that classes would not resume this week as scheduled.
“We have no answers about anything,” Lanier said.
The Office of Higher Education addressed the abrupt closing in a statement saying they “received a brief email on December 30, 2012 from Academic Enterprises Inc., stating that the schools have 'suspended' operations.'"
The statement also urges students impacted by the closure to contact the Office of Higher Education for assistance.
"We encourage all impacted students to register with our office so that we may learn of their status and help answer their questions about finishing their coursework and obtaining potential tuition reimbursements,” said Jane A. Ciarlegio, executive director of the Office of Higher Education.
Connecticut General Statutes prescribe procedures for schools to follow in the event of closing. Schools are required to notify the Office of Higher Education at least 60 days before closing. The notification gives agency officials time to work with school representatives to assure an orderly transition and cessation of business. Both Sawyer Schools and the Butler Business School allegedly violated this requirement.
How the schools will be punished, if at all, following the state’s investigation, remains to be seen.