February 17, 2023

Connecticut, Arizona nursing schools fail to comply, face shutdown

By: Lindsay Botts

Editor's Note

Connecticut-based Stone Academy is the latest nursing program to close doors on three campuses due to compliance issues related to unqualified faculty, invalid student clinical experiences, and recording attendance, as cited by the Connecticut Office of Higher Education (OHE).

This closure comes one year after Phoenix, Arizona-based Aspen University (AU) was placed under investigation by the Arizona State Board of Nursing, leading to the surrender of its nursing program license in September 2022.

Both schools have had lower than average NCLEX pass rates. Stone Academy’s pass rates ranged from 43% to 70% in 2022, while AU’s had fallen to 58% in 2021, far below the required first time pass rate of 80%. 

Prior to closure, Stone Academy agreed to an independent audit to uncover the scope of the problem, however the school ceased operations after being placed on Heightened Cash Monitoring 2 (HCM2) status by the US Department of Education. HCM2 status schools no longer receive funds under the Advance Payment Method. Instead, they are required to make disbursements to students from their own institutional funds and request a government reimbursement.

The notice of charges issued to AU by the Board of Nursing includes high turnover rate among administrators, mid-course curriculum and faculty changes, and inadequate planning for changes to testing practices. Now, AU must prove why its accreditation should not be revoked entirely.

Stone Academy enrolled approximately 800 students and held an average graduation rate of 73% across its three locations. The OHE will offer assistance to affected students during this time of uncertainty.

“The news that Stone Academy is closing its three campuses is extremely disappointing especially given the need of health care professionals in the workforce today,” said Connecticut Department of Public Health Commissioner Manisha Juthani, MD. “We are confident that the Office of Higher Education will help guide them toward a path of success that includes instruction from experienced and highly qualified mentors.”

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