Two former deans filed a pair of lawsuits this week claiming that they were fired from Globe University/Minnesota School of Business after they criticized the Woodbury-based school for misleading students.
Both women allege that the for-profit school falsified job placement numbers and violated a state whistleblower law.
Minnesota School of Business issued a statement Friday saying that it "has investigated these claims and intends to vigorously defend them."
The lawsuits come as for-profit schools face increased federal scrutiny of their graduates' employment rates.
Heidi Weber, who became dean of the medical assistant program in February 2010, alleges that she was fired for repeatedly raising concerns about the school paying its admissions employees commissions based on enrollment, publishing incorrect job placement figures and not providing students adequate training at medical sites, such as clinics.
Students were being "deceived and defrauded," Weber said in an interview. Speaking out has been stressful, she said, but "I want my students to get the education they're paying for."
Jeanne St. Claire, who was promoted to dean of business in 2009, alleges that she was fired in October 2011 after expressing concern about the school "greatly exaggerating Globe's rate of job placement in the 'business' field."
The St. Paul resident "notified management that Globe would not meet accreditation standards if the accreditation agency ... was made aware of the problems," the suit says. St. Claire was "instructed 'no one is going to be telling [the agency] about these issues,'" according to the suit.
St. Claire was fired soon after refusing to withhold the information from the accreditation agency, the lawsuit alleges.
Globe University and Minnesota School of Business operate cooperatively; have campuses in Minnesota, Wisconsin and South Dakota; and are part of the Globe Education Network, a group of for-profit career schools that enroll more than 11,000 students.
In Friday's statement, Minnesota School of Business said that it "maintains the highest academic and professional standards in its business practices and expects its employees to do the same."
Weber and St. Claire are suing in Hennepin County District Court for lost wages and benefits, as well as emotional distress damages. Weber said she took a job as a medical assistant a few weeks ago, a job "unfortunately not to my skill level." St. Claire, whose business expertise is still touted on Globe's website, is looking for employment.
They are both being represented by the Minneapolis firm Halunen and Associates. Since the suit was filed, Clayton Halunen said he's been getting calls from other instructors and students "all saying the same thing -- that job placement hasn't been what was promised."
Jenna Ross • 612-673-7168