Students sue Calif. dental hygiene program

Former students and employees of the Institute of Medical Education (IME) have filed lawsuits against the school after it abruptly shut down last month, leaving them wondering how they were going to finish their degrees and get their money back.

At least three people have sued the IME since it closed, claiming students were misled by IME owners about its accreditation and financial stability, according to a story in the San Jose Mercury News.

The school, which has campuses in Oakland and San Jose, offers associate degrees in dental hygiene and certificate programs in vocational nursing, medical assisting, and other health-related fields.

The dental hygiene program included 18 months of prerequisites and 18 months of a focused clinical program. Some hygiene students told last month that they had prepaid up to $45,000 for the three-year program.

IME officials say that because the school's accrediting body, the Western Association of School and Colleges (WASC), withdrew its participation with the Department of Education in 2010, IME can no longer offer the dental hygiene program and has lost its eligibility to receive Title IV financial aid.

But the WASC told that IME had had 18 months to find a new accreditation body.

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