CBS 4 Special Report: Broken Promises Part 1
A former student at Valley Technical Academy, a Mission-based web development school, is coming forward accusing officials of violating state regulation.
“I had confidence that they were solid,” said Michael Famitafreshi, who graduated from the 12-week program last April.
“One guy even mentioned they had instructors from apple. That turned out not to be true,” he added.
For Famitafreshi, it was the guarantee of a job is what drove him to enroll in the school and pay the almost 7-thousand-dollar tuition cost.
In ads placed earlier this year, Valley Technical academy guaranteed the job placement of its students which is an apparent* direct violation of state regulations.
According to Famitafreshi school officials promised that students would “graduate Friday and by Monday they would start a new job.”
But after finishing the program in April, Famitafreshi said none of these promises were fulfilled.
In the state, the Texas Workforce Commission, or TWC, regulates trade schools.
Emails obtained by CBS 4 show correspondence between the TWC, and the school’s CEO, Ernesto Ayala.
In them, TWC asks school officials to take down these ads and videos and to change their class descriptions to include only those previously authorized.
The TWC investigators acknowledged that they missed the part in the course catalog that listed the job guaranteed. After asking schools officials to remove them, it appears the school did.
Famitafreshi, says he was the only one from his class who found employment but not in the way he expected.
He was offered a job as a web developer midway through the school course for a company owned by the founder of Valley Tech, Jim Smith.
“When I started bugging Ernesto and Jim about what’s going on with these job guarantees, he sort of hired me just to show that he could get somebody a job,” he said. “And he paid me, i got paid. But i was constantly telling him, ‘hey, i don’t have anything to work on.’
CBS 4 obtained a copy of a complaint filed by Famitafreshi to TWC in August.
In it, he says he “could not get a job because he was not taught the skills necessary to get a job as a full stack web developer.”
CBS 4 obtained at least three complaints submitted to TWC regarding Valley Tech.
In a complaint filed in July, one former student said they were told the school had at least 200 sponsors that were willing to extend job offers upon graduation.
They said they were unemployed after completing the program.
School officials settled one of the complaints by reimbursing the tuition to the student and giving them the option of enrolling in continuing education at no cost.
Famitafreshi has also been reimbursed his tuition, but says had to sign up for courses classes not affiliated with Valley Tech to even have a shot at a job in web development.
And the job hunting continues.
“I have interviews going right now, but i had to pay additional for additional materials in order to learn those skills,” he said.
CBS 4 obtained complaints filed before mid-August. One of the students who filed complaints during that time frame has since filed a lawsuit against Valley Tech.
This week, a spokesperson for Valley Tech said in a statement that they “stand by (their) commitment to securing job placement for all students upon graduation.”