Former culinary students of Le Cordon Bleu Culinary School in Portland, Oregon are looking forward to a big payout in a lawsuit against the for-profit cooking school.
Ten years ago, 2,220 students filed a lawsuit against Le Cordon Bleu, claiming the school advertised itself as prestigious, but actually provided low-quality training and materials that only qualified graduates for low-wage positions.
Attorney David Sugerman has been working hard on this case ever since and found out that the culinary school’s parent company, Career Education Corp. and Sallie Mae made a secret deal that overcharged students by 44 percent.
Sugerman said that graduates of the culinary school didn’t get the chef-type job they were expecting. Instead, they got stuck in jobs that people off the street could get.
Carrie Rios, who graduated from the cooking school in 2008, took out $40,000 in loans and didn’t get the jobs she expected after graduating.
“I’m a shift supervisor for Round Table Pizza, and for a year and a half I was at Subway managing over there,” Rios said. It’s a far cry from her dream of owning her own restaurant or being a chef.
“The whole application process, that was a complete lie they let in anybody as long as they had money or approval for a loan, they took them,” Rios added. “This whole thing of it’s so prestigious is all a lie and that made me real angry when I found out about it.”
Once the settlement is complete, the school will pay back 44 percent of the students’ tuition amount.
In 2015, Career Education, the company that operates Le Cordon Bleu made a decision to close down all 16 schools in the U.S. because of new regulations on for-profit schools.
Le Cordon Bleu was once considered the largest cooking school in the world. It expanded rapidly in the U.S. and offered cooking classes, government-subsidized associate’s degrees and online degrees in hospitality and management.
Career Education has received numerous complaints over the years from graduates who said their diplomas weren’t worth the high tuition fees, which ranged from $16,000 to as much as $42,550.
The federal government cracked down on for-profit colleges by enforcing new regulations that limit student loan payments to 20 percent of a student’s after-tax wages.
Career Education CEO Todd Nelson said the regulations “make it difficult to project the future for career schools that have higher operating costs, such as culinary schools that require expensive commercial kitchens and ongoing food costs.”