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UPDATE: Globe says AG's claims of deception 'could not be further from truth'

Minnesota Attorney General Lori Swanson is suing two for-profit Minnesota-based colleges for allegedly misrepresenting career opportunities to students. (Forum News Service file photo)

Globe University on Tuesday called a lawsuit filed by the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office "unnecessary enforcement action."

The suit, filed by Attorney General Lori Swanson in Hennepin County District Court, claims Woodbury-based Globe University exploited its criminal justice students by misrepresenting the potential for job opportunities. The suit seeks injunctive relief, civil penalties and restitution.

According to a news release, Globe and Minnesota School of Business (MSB) – the other for-profit college named in the suit – left some students seeking to become police officers with tens of thousands of dollars’ worth of debt, without improving their career prospects.

Minnesota law does not allow people to become sworn police officers unless they graduate from regionally accredited institutions and have completed the professional peace officer education program.

Globe and MSB do not offer that peace officer program nor the required accreditation, according to the attorney general’s office.

The schools’ associate- and bachelor’s-degree criminal justice programs cost $35,100 and $70,200, respectively, according to the release.

Swanson said the schools “exploited” students whose dream it was to attend college.

“It isn’t right for students whose goal is to protect and defend the public as police officers to be sold a degree that doesn’t even allow them to become a police officer in Minnesota,” she said in the news release.

Allegations of deceptive admissions practices “could not be further from the truth,” according to a prepared statement issued by Globe-MSB in response to the lawsuit. The statement says not one student identified by Swanson utilized an internal “dispute resolution process” offered by the school.

In its response, Globe states that admissions representatives make clear to prospective criminal justice students that the program doesn’t fulfill Minnesota Peace Officer Standards and Training requirements and that its course catalog and enrollment agreement specify that the criminal justice program doesn’t prepare them to become police officers.

“The objective of the criminal justice program is to provide an understanding of the theories underlying law enforcement, judicial systems and correctional modalities within the context of social sciences,” according to the Globe statement, which states that “many career opportunities” are outlined for those pursuing the program.

The attorney general’s office outlines a sales-oriented culture among admissions representatives who are tasked with enrolling students at Globe and MSB. The schools’ representatives are coached not to take “no” for an answer and to leverage prospective students’ dreams to close the deal, according to the release.

Globe contends that its admissions training practices “are designed to provide prospective students with all of the information needed to make an informed decision prior to enrolling.”

Other allegations listed in the suit include the inability for students’ credits to transfer to other institutions. While Globe and MSB are nationally accredited, most colleges sought for transfer are regionally accredited, the release states.

That, according to the attorney general, means the regionally accredited schools will not accept most, if not all, credits from nationally accredited schools – a realization many students do not make until after deciding to pursue college elsewhere, according to the release.

Globe acknowledged that “it is unlikely that credits will transfer to state colleges or universities,” but said that its admissions representatives are trained to inform prospective transfer students to check with other colleges prior to enrolling.

“This information is outlined in our course catalog and enrollment agreement,” the Globe release states.

Swanson lists the median amount of student debt at Globe for an associate’s degree is $35,132. The release compares that figure to $15,850 at a state community college.

Globe states that together with MSB, more than 13,000 “real-world ready graduates” have been put in the workforce.

“Regrettably, today’s misguided action threatens jobs and quality career-focused education for thousands of Minnesotans,” the Globe release states.

Tuesday’s lawsuit follows previous suits filed by former Globe employees and students, who alleged misrepresentation at the school.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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