An­tonelli is back in busi­ness

After feds re­verse de­ci­sion, school pre­pares to re­open

The Community Connection - - FRONT PAGE - By Donna Rovins drovins@21st-cen­tu­ry­media.com @Mer­cBiz on Twit­ter

A week after be­ing in­formed it would be de­cer­ti­fied by the fed­eral gov­ern­ment, An­tonelli Med­i­cal & Pro­fes­sional In­sti­tute has re­ceived a re­prieve and will re­main open.

Rick Reikob, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor and COO of the school, said the U.S. Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion sent no­ti­fi­ca­tion Aug. 29 that it is re­vers­ing its de­nial of the school’s re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for

par­tic­i­pa­tion in fed­eral fi­nan­cial aid pro­grams.

He said the school is now mak­ing ef­forts to get classes fully up and run­ning again.

Reikob said he is reach­ing out to stu­dents to in­vite them to an in­for­ma­tional meet­ing this week, “to dis­cuss their op­tions as it re­lates to con­tin­u­ing their ed­u­ca­tion right here where it all be­gan.”

The ses­sions were held at the school on Thurs­day, Aug. 31, at 6 p.m. and on Fri­day, Sept. 1, at 10 a.m.

Ac­cord­ing to the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion let­ter sent Aug. 29 to An­tonelli Med­i­cal & Pro­fes­sional In­sti­tute owner Ed­ward Gille­spie — a copy of which has been ob­tained by Dig­i­tal First Me­dia — the school’s month-tomonth par­tic­i­pa­tion in fi­nan­cial aid pro­grams will not end on Aug. 31 as orig­i­nally stip­u­lated Aug. 22.

When the de­nial of the school’s cer­ti­fi­ca­tion was an­nounced last week, Reikob and his staff got to work plan­ning a “tea­chout process” for stu­dents — mak­ing ar­range­ments for those in the last mod­ule of study and ex­tern­ships and talk­ing with other schools that might have pro­grams An­tonelli stu­dents could step into. Just three staff mem­bers re­mained — vol­un­teer­ing their time as the process moved for­ward.

It is not yet clear ex­actly how and when the pro­grams will be restarted.

“There is still a lot of work to be done to re­build what has been bro­ken over the past seven days and we plan to con­tinue to do all that we can to make our stu­dents whole,” Reikob said.

In ad­di­tion to reach­ing out to stu­dents, Reikob is also reach­ing out to some of the re­cently dis­placed em­ploy­ees to gauge their abil­ity and de­sire to re­turn to the school.

For his part, Gille­spie said he’s still try­ing to make sense of it all.

“I was out driv­ing yes­ter­day after talk­ing with an at­tor­ney about fi­nan­cial re­or­ga­ni­za­tion — and then I got a call re­scind­ing the de­ci­sion,” he said. “Talk about go­ing from one side to the other. I’m look­ing at fi­nan­cial dis­as­ter, and she says ‘we made a mis­take.’”

The last line of the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion let­ter reads, “The Depart­ment re­grets the neg­a­tive im­pact this turn of events has caused to AMPI (An­tonelli Med­i­cal & Pro­fes­sional In­sti­tute) and its stu­dents.”

“If you look at that last sen­tence: they’re sorry for what hap­pened to the stu­dents. The stu­dents are the ones that ul­ti­mately suf­fered the most be­cause of in­com­pe­tence and mis­takes on part of the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion,” Gille­spie added.

Asked if the school can re­cover from the events of this past week, Gille­spie re­mains op­ti­mistic.

“I be­lieve so. There’s a need here,” he said. “They don’t un­der­stand the im­pact it has on the com­mu­nity. When they do this, they’re elim­i­nat­ing the jobs of the peo­ple who work there, but also im­pact­ing the com­mu­nity be­cause where do the young peo­ple go — what do they do?”

THE IS­SUE

As part of the orig­i­nal de­nial, the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion cited nearly $5.6 mil­lion in li­a­bil­i­ties as­sessed in 2016 against Gille­spie for an­other school he owned — Amer­i­can Beauty Academy.

How­ever, the depart­ment stated this week that after re­view­ing its records, of­fi­cials could not con­firm that no­ti­fi­ca­tion of the as­sessed li­a­bil­i­ties was de­liv­ered to of­fi­cials at Amer­i­can Beauty Academy.

Gille­spie con­tends he never re­ceived the doc­u­ments out­lin­ing the as­sess­ment, say­ing they were mailed to an ad­dress for the busi­ness that closed in Novem­ber 2015.

Since de­liv­ery of the doc­u­ments could not be con­firmed, the depart­ment has ac­knowl­edged Amer­i­can Beauty Academy of­fi­cials were un­able to ex­er­cise their right to ap­peal the as­sess­ment.

Gille­spie said he was de­nied the right to due process.

“Due process is — you let some­body know what the prob­lem is and give the op­por­tu­nity to ap­peal or re­spond. I was de­nied that op­por­tu­nity,” he said, adding that the is­sue goes deeper than just not re­ceiv­ing no­ti­fi­ca­tion about the li­a­bil­i­ties.

The Aug. 22 de­nial let­ter cited the Nov. 2015 re­vo­ca­tion of Amer­i­can Beauty Academy’s par­tic­i­pa­tion in fed­eral fi­nan­cial aid after a pro­gram re­view de­ter­mined the school had used im­proper method­olo­gies to cal­cu­late its ra­tios for fi­nan­cial aid in 2012, 2013 and 2014.

Again, Gille­spie con­tends he was never no­ti­fied by the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion that there was an is­sue.

“Those three au­dits were sub­mit­ted and ac­cepted by the depart­ment of ed­u­ca­tion and then retroac­tively they said they didn’t com­ply. Once again due process was de­nied,” he said.

Gille­spie said this past week has been a week of un­cer­tainty as he con­sid­ers his op­tions. He said he’s an­gry, con­cerned and frus­trated by the sit­u­a­tion. He added that he plans to ap­peal the 2016 as­sess­ment against Amer­i­can Beauty Academy, say­ing it was in­cum­bent on the depart­ment to re­port if there was an is­sue with any of the au­dits.

An­tonelli of­fi­cials also reached out to Con­gress­man Ryan Costello, R-6th Dist., for help in the past week.

“Case­work staff in my of­fice con­tinue to work for an out­come that does not ad­versely im­pact stu­dents, and to en­sure there are clear lines of com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion and the school,” Costello said Aug. 30.

The Depart­ment of Ed­u­ca­tion did not re­spond to a re­quest by Dig­i­tal First Me­dia for ad­di­tional in­for­ma­tion.

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

An­tonelli Med­i­cal & Pro­fes­sional In­sti­tute has been no­ti­fied that a de­ci­sion to deny re­cer­ti­fi­ca­tion for the school has been re­versed.

DONNA ROVINS — DIG­I­TAL FIRST ME­DIA

Rick Reikob, ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of An­tonelli Med­i­cal & Pro­fes­sional In­sti­tute, is reach­ing out to stu­dents.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.