A for-profit trade school in Texas that trained student veterans in heating and air conditioning careers has suspended classes and sent its students packing after losing its eligibility to receive GI Bill funds.
The closure of Retail Ready Career Center in Garland, Texas, stems from a Department of Veterans Affairs investigation last week, said Bryce Dubee, public affairs officer for the Texas Veterans Commission.
The school closed Wednesday, providing students with free shuttles to the airport and plane tickets home, according to the Dallas Morning News. An online calendar for the school shows students were two weeks into a six-week training course, which would have ended Oct. 20.
The Texas Veterans Commission, the state approving agency for Retail Ready Career Center, withdrew the school’s eligibility to educate GI Bill recipients after learning the VA had executed a search warrant at the school on Sept. 20, “as it was determined the school no longer met criteria for approval,” Dubee said. It’s unclear whether the school plans to reopen.
Neither Retail Ready Career Center nor the VA responded to requests for comment Friday by press time.
Veteran students constituted the vast majority of the student population at the school, according to the school’s website. Federal data for the latest fiscal year show the school educated more than 1,000 students using GI Bill benefits in 2016 for a total cost of $28,858,494.
The cost of the program includes an iPad Mini, professional tool kit, catered meals and a $175 dinner allowance, as well as job placement help, according to the website.
The school was not accredited, according to information it provided to Military Times earlier this year. The program was licensed by the Texas Workforce Commission for two courses in computer installation and repair and heating, air conditioning and refrigeration technology.
“The Texas Workforce Commission is aware of the situation with Retail Ready Career School and is in communication with our state and federal partners,” Texas Workforce Commission spokeswoman Lisa Givens said in an email. Commission staff are available to answer questions from the students and staff at (866) 256-6333, (512) 936-3100 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Dubee said the VA will contact students about their benefits. And while the veterans commission had not yet received any calls from veterans in need, any students seeking immediate housing or financial help can contact the Veterans Coalition of North Central Texas.