Local News

Computer School Goes Bankrupt

Posted May 15, 2002 6:52 a.m. EDT

— Thousands of Triangle workers have been laid off over the last couple of years. Many use the time to go back to school to make themselves more employable, but what happens when the school goes out of business? One school went bankrupt, leaving hundreds of students without training and without the money they paid.

A+, MCSE and CIW are just some of the certification programs offered by Charlotte-based Solid Computer Decisions (SCD) -- a school that guaranteed employment for graduates.

"It was just the idea of getting a job when we got done is what sold us on it," said Dan Schweit of Raleigh.

Schweit is one of about 250 North Carolina students who each paid SCD $10,000 to $11,000 each for a combined total of about $2.5 million for training they did not get. The school went bankrupt May 1.

"One of the guys went up to the school and the doors were locked, and that was pretty much it," Schweit said.

Just two weeks earlier, the company claimed it was "restructuring their training division." President Jerry Wingate even sent a e-mail to students saying "SCD is doing well." Schweit and other students feel the company knew all along what was coming.

"Really, all it came down to is that it was buying time," Schweit said.

Like Schweit, many SCD students were laid off and trying to make themselves more marketable.

Stephen Athans oversees schools like SCD for the state of North Carolina. He said as part of SCD's licensing process, his office checked for financial stability.

"They came up as being financially sound, but financial stability of an organization can change quite rapidly too," Athans said. "I think it's sad. I think it's a terrible disservice to the students."

Athans said because the company is bankrupt, students, who again paid a combined total of about $2.5 million, will not get refunds. Athans is working to get other schools to provide free training for them.

"The truth of the matter is we're looking at trying the best-case scenario," Athans said. "I think everybody's going to lose somewhere along the lines. Hopefully, students will get the training they originally signed up for."

Schweit said he is not waiting to enroll elsewhere. He is now teaching himself.

"As far as I'm concerned, I'm still going to classes, just I'm the trainer and the student at this point," he said.

Wingate did not return WRAL's messages for an interview. SCD students are asked to contact the

state's community college system

in hopes of finding a solution.

SCD also does business in nine other states. So far, the state attorney general's office is not investigating.