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Attorney general reaches $425,000 settlement with for-profit school

A Brockton for-profit school must reimburse students $425,000 and change its advertising practices in a settlement reached after allegations that it misrepresented job placement numbers and made other misleading statements, the attorney general’s office announced today.

Sullivan and Cogliano Training Centers Inc. has reached a consent agreement in Plymouth Superior Court with the office of Attorney General Martha Coakley, who filed a lawsuit in April.

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Coakley said the school’s actions ultimately left graduates “with large amounts of debt.”

“We are pleased that this settlement will provide restitution to help students. We are continuing our investigation into the for-profit school industry to protect students and help ensure they are getting the benefits they are paying for,” Coakley said in a statement.

The attorney general’s office alleged, among other things, that the school told people interested in working in medical offices that virtually all would get jobs in that field. In fact, the school allegedly inflated its placement percentages by counting jobs that graduates got in fast food and big box retail stores.

The attorney general’s office also alleged that the school misled students by using the title “medical assistant” in its promotional material. The school never offered such a curriculum, the statement said.

The school, which did not admit any wrongdoing in the settlement, cooperated with the attorney general’s office to resolve the issues, the statement said.

“Sullivan and Cogliano Training Centers is pleased to have reached a final agreement with the Attorney General’s office regarding our job training programs for students. The agreement reflects Sullivan and Cogliano Training Center’s input and cooperation. While Sullivan and Cogliano Training Centers denied any allegations of wrongdoing, we share the Attorney General’s commitment to providing students with quality educational experiences that increase their skills,” school spokeswoman Diana Pisciotta said in a statement.

Pisciotta also said the school’s “website and written materials are being enhanced and updated with all required disclosures and placement statistics will reflect the parameters agreed upon with the Attorney General.”

In addition to investigating the for-profit school industry, Coakley has implemented an extensive education campaign for students, her office said.

The attorney general has “significant concerns” about the schools, which are expensive and heavily funded by federal student loans, Coakley’s office said.

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