An Iowa court has ordered the California Alternative High School of Ventura to stop recruiting students or conducting classes in Iowa. Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller said the privately-owned school may have deceived consumers by claiming that its program would produce the equivalent of a high school program.
The school's program reportedly cost about $600 for ten weeks of classes, three hours per week.
The Iowa Consumer Protection Division told the court it appeared that the company tended to target lower-income Latino and immigrant populations with representations of college admission upon completion.
The filing said it appeared that the company's representations "were deceptive, due to the fact that it appeared that few if any colleges or universities would admit students based upon graduation" from California Alternative High School's unaccredited educational program.
The Nebraska Attorney General sued the school earlier and Indiana is investigating it.
A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge issued an injunction against the school in April, barring it from stating in advertisements or directly to students that it offers an official high school education or diploma, the Ventura County Star reported.
Los Angeles attorney Stephen Shikes sought the injunction on behalf of three of the school's graduates.
"Students think that when they sign up for his program, they're going to get a full-fledged high school diploma, and in fact they're not getting one," Shikes said, according to the Star.
The school denies that it misleads students. However, in each student workbook, CAHS lists several recognitions or approvals. Included on that list are these statements, the Star said:
CAHS is legally constituted within the state of California and is so authorized to confer the high school diploma.
Recognized by states, federal government and United States Department of Education for students to participate in financial aid programs.
Students are admitted at accredited colleges and universities.
But the school is not authorized by any state agency to award high school diplomas; in fact, such programs are not regulated in California. Having a degree from the school has no bearing on a student's eligibility for college financial aid.
Community colleges in California do not require high school diplomas for admission. Most accredited four-year colleges and universities, including University of California schools, California State University schools and California Lutheran University, require high school diplomas from accredited schools. Colleges and universities in Iowa and Nebraska also will not accept the CAHS diploma.
"When selling services, you can't engage in deceptive misrepresentation. We believe we have a very good case for consumer fraud," said Bill Brauch, director of the consumer protection division of the Iowa Attorney General's Office, which obtained an injunction to stop CAHS from operating in the state.
The school's "principal" and owner, Daniel A.D. Gossai, said the program would not be successful if it weren't improving students' lives. He said he operates in 12 states, including at least eight sites in Southern California, and hopes to expand the program to all 50 states within 18 months.