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SFUAD students file suit over school’s announced closure

SANTA FE – Three students at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design are suing the school and its parent Laureate Education Inc. for breach of contract and other alleged wrongs following the for-profit school's recent announcement that it will close next year.

The lawsuit was filed Thursday in state District Court because “it's become clear that Laureate cares more about their profits than about their students,” attorney Ben Allison said Thursday. “Those students have been abandoned after being brought to Santa Fe and promised an education.”

The for-profit Santa Fe University of Art and Design has announced it will close at the end of the 2017-18 school year. (EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL)

The for-profit Santa Fe University of Art and Design has announced it will close at the end of the 2017-18 school year.
(EDDIE MOORE/JOURNAL)

The suit on behalf of students Lucian Orsinger, Mark Baker-Sanchez and Calvin Ambrose Taylor also alleges unfair practices, breach of good faith, fraud and negligent representation.

“Some students have staked everything they have, sold their stuff, got all the loans they can get,” Allison said. “… and now they have got no good choices.”

The school has said it closed after a deal to sell to an Asian education company fell through. A document made public last year as a part of the potential sale said SFUAD had a “net loss” of more than $7 million as of June 2015. Santa Fe city government bought the campus as the old College of Santa Fe failed in 2009 and has been leasing it to SFUAD since then.

“By withholding information about the collapse of the sale and closure of the school, Laureate intentionally placed faculty and students in a vulnerable position. Laureate's actions have left students and faculty frightened, worried, misinformed, and angry,” the lawsuit states.

The school's plan to close at the end of the 2017-18 school year was announced April 12. The lawsuit states, “The application deadline for most schools is January, so it is too late for students to apply for acceptance to other schools, meaning that opportunities to continue their education elsewhere are limited.”

SFUAD spokeswoman Rachael Lighty said on Thursday evening that the school couldn't comment on legal matters. “As we have indicated over the last few weeks, the institution's primary focus right now is on the students and that is demonstrated by the ongoing communications and assistance provided to students and their families, and the number of transfer agreements in place, as well as several other steps taken,” she said.

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