Investigation: Sonogram School - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Investigation: Sonogram School

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We are in a jobs crisis. The good news is that many people are signing up for career schools, hoping to land a new job but some North Texas students are learning a hard lesson.

The Texas Workforce Commission reviews career schools and signs off on the curriculum, finances and job rate. For 8 years in a row, the T-W-C gave the approval to the Diagnostic Medical Institute.

Candice Schuff dreamed of a better life for her kids. She wanted big bucks in a high tech field.

"It hooked me," Schuff told Reporter Becky Oliver. "I was like, I could really do something with my family."

So Schuff signed up for the Diagnostic Medical Institute, a career school in Fort Worth, hoping to become a cardiac sonographer. But Schuff complained to the state, she ended up with broken promises and a mountain of debt. She never got the hands on training.

"Did you ever get to work on the machines?" Oliver questioned.

"For like one hour and then she claimed the machines were broken," Schuff told Oliver.

The school's website promises after graduation, students will be able to take the National Certification Exams and the class syllabus promises students will observe and perform scanning during an externship. Schuff says it didn't happen.

"So what did you do on your internship?" Oliver asked.

"We filed papers and checked in patients," Schuff continued.

"It has devastated my life," Donna Greenwald told Oliver.

Greenwald is another student who graduated from the school and complained to the state.

Greenwald says she spent her life savings on the school, nearly twenty thousand dollars.

"I lost my home. I could not find employment," Greenwald said.

"It is like trying to learn to ride a bike," said Jan Blend. Blend accredits sonogram schools. She says the hands on experience is essential.

"Until you have a student in front of you and you hold their hand and you tell them how to angle, or how much pressure, they don't get it," Blend said.

What Fox 4 didn't get is just who is getting jobs from this school so Fox sent in a prospective student undercover to meet with owner, Dr. Mumtaz Farash.

"How many students have you placed so far?" asked the prospective student.

"There are so many," Farash told the woman.

"They are working everywhere, in cardiac centers. I don't have the list," she said.

When pressed Farash told her the list was actually secret because of confidentiality.

"When you decide to come here I will show the letters, the names," Farash continued.

And it is not just the school that keeps that list top secret so does the Texas Workforce Commission.

The T-W-C posts employment information on its website for prospective students but fights to keep the names of graduates confidential. Career schools must show that at least sixty percent of graduates are getting jobs or the state can shut a school down but we wondered who is checking.

"We do spot check employment outcomes and employment reports," said Lisa Givens of the T-W-C.

"So basically it is an honor system?" Oliver questioned.

"It is an honor system that includes a lot of checks and balances," Givens said.

Givens says a school owner must swear the employment information turned in is correct but that is it.

In 2009, Farash wrote the state asking to increase her fees up to 28 thousand dollars because her employment rate was about one hundred percent.

"Has anyone ever checked her students do you know?" Oliver asked.

"I don't have that information available to me," Givens said.

The state also signed off on Farash's criminal record.

She pleaded guilty to Tax Evasion in 2004. She was sentenced to six months in federal prison, three years of supervised release and one hundred thirty thousand dollars in restitution.

"Having a felony is not an automatic disqualification," Givens said.

"This is cheating," Oliver said.

"We are taking another look at this. We are strengthening our rules," Given answered.

Farash invited us to visit her school. She explained she was actually innocent of the criminal charges.

"I evaluated the easy way for me to get out of the problem is to plead guilty and get out," Farash told Oliver.

Fox also questioned the MD on her jacket. Although Farash graduated from medical school in India, she admitted she is not a licensed Medical Doctor in the U-S. In fact, the Missouri Medical Board reports Farash has taken the Medical Board exam at least twenty times in seven states and Missouri reports she provided false information to the board. Farash says that is not true.

"I did not fill the form properly," Farash said.

And all those board exams?

"No, just applied," Farash said.

"This is not true?" Oliver questioned.

"No it is not," Farash said.

"This information that is a matter of public record is not true?" Oliver asked again.

"No." Farash said.

We asked about the student complaints that machines did not work. Not true again, Farash said.

"Because they don't have jobs, they want to get money from me," Farash told Oliver.

We wanted to see the list of who is getting jobs. She showed us a lot of paperwork but when Oliver tried to take a closer look, Farash stopped her.

"No, no, no, you cannot take that," Farash said.

"No, I am not taking anything. You were showing me and I just wanted to look through some of this," Oliver explained.

"Just leave. This is personal," Farash said.

"Could you please provide us with a list of your students who have graduated, where they are working and their phone numbers." Oliver asked.

Fox is still waiting for that list.

"I am absolutely appalled. It makes me want to cry," said Gail Davis.

Cry, because Gail Davis paid Farash fifteen thousand dollars. After a few months in the program she complained Farash kicked her out, claiming she was violent and aggressive. Davis says she was just asking too many questions.

"My savings account is gone to that lady and I have very little hope of having it returned," Davis told Oliver.

Students say they want a full refund. They believe the only job they got was a snow job.

" Had I known she was a convicted felon, I would never have given her my money," Davis said.

"I was hoping to help take care of my family," Candice Schuff added. "It just sucks that I can't."

Fox 4 talked with Farash's three current students. They are all happy with the program. Farash also provided one letter from someone claiming to be a former student who was pleased with the program but there was no phone number, address or work provided so there was no way to confirm that information.

 

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