Parent Company of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Schools Under Scrutiny

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CEC's website shows off happy graduates.
The corporation that runs fifteen culinary schools in the United States under the name Le Cordon Bleu, including a branch in St. Peters, is under scrutiny for possibly misrepresenting the employment rates of its graduates. (Here in St. Louis, the Chicago-based Career Education Corporation also operates several Sanford-Brown business schools as well as Missouri College, an institute for dental assistants.)

This fall the New York Attorney General's Office subpoenaed documents from the for-profit CEC to see if the company followed state laws regarding consumer protection, securities and finance.

Last week CEC admitted that its own internal review of career placement after graduation discovered that several of its schools used "improper placement determination practices." Specifically, only 13 of its 49 ACICS (Accrediting Counsel for Independent Colleges and Schools)-accredited institutions had acceptable numbers of graduates finding work after receiving a diploma from one of its schools. The ACICS requires that at least 65 percent of graduates find work in fields related to their study. Dipping below that benchmark can cost a school accreditation and its students access to federal loans.

In response, CEC this month announced the resignation of its CEO and stated that it's taking swift action to fix the problem. According to the company's website, the Le Cordon Bleu in the St. Louis region has fared better than many of CEC's other schools, placing 89 percent of its graduates in jobs related to their studies. Its four Sanford Brown Colleges in the metro area have more mixed results.

As Daily RFT reported last month, CEC and Sanford Brown recently have been slapped with more than a dozen lawsuits in federal court in St. Louis alleging that students here spent thousands of dollars on highly specialized training only to learn the course credits didn't transfer elsewhere and that there were extremely limited opportunities for employment in the fields they'd been studying.

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