HOUSTON -- They were sold hope that some bought with their last penny, but now many former local nursing assistant students say they graduated with a useless diploma.
“I’m hurt because I have a 3-year-old to take care of and I thought I was going to school to better my income,” said former Parsons Health School student Shameka Freeman.
For $600 and four weeks of hard work, Freeman received her diploma from Parsons earlier this summer, but when she went to take the state test she was told she couldn’t.
“I don’t know what school I went to,” she said.
That’s because Parsons, which also called itself the Aristocratic Institute, wasn’t certified to teach her despite claiming to be approved by the Texas Workforce Commission and Department of Aging.
Freeman isn’t the only Parsons student who paid for the class, studied for weeks and wasn’t allowed to take the state test after receiving a diploma. In fact, some students didn’t even receive a diploma.
“I’m stuck. I’m stuck. I’m helpless,” said former student Jasmine Tigner as tears streamed down her face. “No one helps, no one tells you who to talk to, and you don’t know what to do.”
Jasmine, a single mother, paid her tuition, went to class, but never even got a diploma.
“They’ve deprived me of a better life, of being a better provider, of being a better mother,” said Tigner.
But it wasn’t always this way. For two years Parsons did have an instructor certified to teach nursing assistants, but when the instructor left last May, her certification and the school’s went with her. But Parsons kept enrolling students, taking their money and leaving them desperate.
“I don’t think I’m accountable for any of those things,” said Billie Fields, who started teaching at the school after the previous instructor left.
Fields says she’s not to blame even though she signed many of those useless diplomas.
“I feel bad for them too,” said Fields.
KHOU 11 News: “Did you know they weren’t going to be able to take the state test?
Billie Fields: “No. I didn’t.”
KHOU 11 News: “Did you know they weren’t certified at the time?”
Billie Fields: “No. I didn’t. I really did not. I did not know that until after the students had graduated.”
Instead, she points to the owner of the school, a man known as Babu George.
When KHOU 11 News went by his home, he wasn’t there, but his parents were.
“He’s an innocent boy,” they said.
Later, George phoned KHOU 11 News but declined to go on camera. He also blamed someone he claims is a former employee. A woman named Rochelle Anderson.
George said Anderson, who police claim owes hundreds of dollars in outstanding traffic warrants, has been using the name of his school without his permission. He claims he closed the school when the state-certified instructor quit.
In the meantime, the state of Texas says the whole mess has prompted them to take action.
“That’s why we’re working so closely with the Texas Workforce Commission and why we are communicating with the provider to let them know they are in violation,” said Cecilia Cavuto, a spokeswoman for the Texas Department of Disability and Aging.
In fact, KHOU repeatedly visited the office where Parsons School is located, but the lights were always off.
And Rochelle Anderson recently left a voicemail message for Shameka Freeman in which she appears to blame the victim: “Shameka, this is Rochelle. You need to give me a call because we have some allegation about fraudulent certificates. I need to talk to you about that and find out what’s going on because of right now, you all are in serious trouble so you need to call me back,” said Anderson.
Despite repeated attempts to contact her via phone, voicemails, and letters, at press time KHOU11 News has not received comment from Anderson.