In the latest blow to besieged Globe University and the Minnesota School of Business, the schools have been ordered to offer restitution to more than 1,200 students who were defrauded in the schools’ criminal justice program.
Those affected will be eligible to be repaid for tuition, including student loans, payments for books and other fees, and any interest or finance charges they incurred while criminal justice students after January 2009, according to a court order signed Wednesday.
The order comes after the Woodbury-based, for-profit schools were found to have violated the state’s Consumer Fraud and Deceptive Trade Practices Act in promoting their criminal justice program as a way to become a police officer or probation officer in Minnesota.
The schools are operated separately but owned by the same family.
In a statement, the schools said they are disappointed by the order and are continuing to weigh their options, including an appeal.
“The court’s final order was limited to one program — criminal justice — which has not been offered for more than two years and which represented no more than 4 percent of the schools’ overall student population at any given time.
“We are disappointed that the court’s findings, based on the testimony of only 16 students, have resulted in such significant harm to the education and degrees of tens of thousands of students and alumni.”
Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson filed suit against the schools in 2014 claiming that many students, including a large number of veterans using GI Bill benefits, enrolled in the schools’ criminal justice program only to later discover that their degree failed to meet requirements for becoming police and probation officers in Minnesota.
Last year, Hennepin County Judge James Moore ruled that the schools’ recruitment and marketing policies “ignored or obscured the requirement and served as a trap for the unwary.”
The ruling set off a landslide of regulatory actions against the schools, including the loss of federal student loan funding, which forced the schools to close their doors this month.
As part of his ruling, Moore on Wednesday ordered the schools to provide restitution to the 15 witnesses who testified at the trial last year and to any other student who was enrolled in the criminal justice program after Jan. 1, 2009.
The schools have been ordered to provide the attorney general’s office with a list of the other students.
The attorney general will notify them of their right to receive restitution and the students will have 45 days to submit a claim. A special master will be appointed to decide on disputed claims, according to the order.
A spokesman for the attorney general’s office said it believes that 1,239 students were affected.