A small Glen Burnie business school that opened a decade ago closed yesterday without warning, shocking students and faculty and leaving many wondering if they squandered money for an education they never completed.
Students arriving for classes at Yorktowne Business Institute were handed a form letter saying the school, which offers computer and secretarial training, had shut down.
"There was no prior notice," said Lisa Adams, a 19-year-old student. "We had teachers who were crying because they just lost their job."
Students and teachers said they had no idea why the school closed. Adams said she knew the school's lease in the Harundale Office Building was to expire in September, but she said students were promised they would all graduate before changes were made.
Adams, who lives alone with her 5-month-old son, said she had a job lined up in June as a secretary with a law firm earning $35,000 a year -- but only after completing the nine-month course.
"Now I'm back to the same old fast-food thing," she said. "I'm no better off now then when I first went there. I have the skills, but without the certificate, it doesn't mean anything."
A teacher, Michelle Brown, said officials hadtold the 20 staff members -- most of whom were part time -- that a decision on the school's future would be made by today.
"This morning I got in ready to teach school as normal," said Brown, who taught a computer software application course. "I'm going to go on a nice vacation and then probably go out and look for another job. I just don't understand."
The school is owned by Fischer Educational Systems,a Nashville-based corporation that runs 18 similar schools across the country. Between 70 and 100 students attended the Glen Burnie branch. The nine-month program cost $5,100.
Most students receive student aid or loans, the company said.
Ken Harb, Fischer's chief executive officer, said the Glen Burnie school was losing too much money to remain open. "It was strictly a business decision," he said. "Of course, when something like this happens, you are dealing with people'slives.
"I don't think there typically is notice to anyone in these situations," he said. "It is just the nature of the industry. You can sit and look for negatives all day long. It is not a bankrupt situation where students won't get what is justly do them. Students will be taken care of to the letter of the law."
Elizabeth Wellman, thecompany's vice president, said she will be working in Glen Burnie all next week trying to ease students fears. She said the school has been working with the state and will pay back all outstanding student loans.
Students also have the option of attending Fischer's school in Landover. "They can continue their education without interruption," she said.
But Adams said she can't go to the Prince George's County school. "I used to take my baby to class with me," she said. "Nowthey want me to go to D.C. No way."
School officials also said the firing of the school's director, Richard A. Blosser, and the entireadmissions staff last week had nothing to do with the shut down.
"They were released because we were doing a review of the processes in the department," Wellman said.
"The terminations were to reduce some overhead real quick," Harb said. He refused to say how much money the corporation lost at its Glen Burnie branch.