OAKLAND — Just weeks before Boston’s Northeastern University officially takes over Mills College, a new class action lawsuit is claiming Mills illegally deceived hundreds of students about the merger.
The lawsuit, filed in Alameda County Superior Court this week, accuses Mills of violating the state’s unfair competition and false advertising laws by encouraging students to stay enrolled in the school and that final degrees would likely be conferred in 2023. Only later the school announced it would confer its last degrees this year and that it would cut a number of degree programs, the suit said.
For students like Willa Cordrey, a plaintiff in the case, that led to lost money and a delay in being able to finish degrees.
In 2019, Cordrey started a Mills program that would have allowed her to earn her Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in education and a teaching credential in five years. School officials told her after the school announced it was closing that she could finish her degree program, so she re-enrolled in the program. But in January, Mills announced it was eliminating programs that Northeastern did not offer, including Cordrey’s.
“Mills College repeatedly misled Ms. Cordrey about her ability to graduate and get her teaching credential through Mills College, before finally stating that the best they could do is allow her to receive her Bachelor’s in Communications or a similarly unrelated major through Northeastern University, with no path to receive her teaching credential,” a statement from the law firms that filed the suit, Bryan Schwartz Law and Nichols Kaster, PLLP, noted.
“I wanted to learn how to teach at Mills, because I felt that my classes and professors were preparing me to be the kind of teacher I wanted to be. I did everything I could to complete my education at Mills,” Cordrey said in a written statement. “The administration had an obligation to their current students, and they have failed us.”
Asked for comment on the lawsuit, a Mills spokesperson issued a statement that insisted that “Mills College and Northeastern University are working diligently to mitigate any issues that Mills students may encounter as a result of the pending merger of the two institutions.”
School leaders maintain that students will not have to pay more to complete their degrees as the schools merge, even if they have to take longer to finish their courses because of different requirements from accrediting bodies.
Another student, Jenny Varner, was on track to graduate from Mills in May 2023 with degrees in Art History and History and made plans to complete her degree after initial emails from the college administration assured students that the college would stop conferring degrees after the spring 2023 semester. It was only later that she received word from the college that she could not complete her degrees, and it was too late to get a tuition refund for the semester she had just started.
The lawsuit is seeking monetary damages for those two plaintiffs and others, if the court approves the class action status of the case.
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Source:: The Mercury News – Latest News
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