Texas-based ATI Enterprises, Inc. (“ATI”) has agreed to settle two separate whistleblower cases for $3.7 million. ATI operates sixteen for-profit career schools in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma and New Mexico under the names ATI Technical Training Center, ATI Career Training Center and ATI Career Training.
The two lawsuits were initially filed by former ATI employees including Portia Aldridge, Tiffany Turner, Monica Lewis, James Lewis, Nathan Wallace, and Lori Jackson, under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act. The first was brought in 2009 in Texas and the second was filed in 2011 in Florida.
According to the complaints, over a three year period, multiple ATI campuses in Texas submitted false information concerning their job placement statistics to the Texas Workforce Commission in order to retain their state licenses. The complaints allege that ATI would be ineligible to receive federal financial aid payments under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as amended, without state licensure.
The government also alleged that employees knowingly enrolled students who did not meet the school’s eligibility requirements because they did not have high school diplomas; created fictitious high school diplomas; did not drop students with poor grades or attendance; and knowingly misrepresented to students their future employability, potential salaries and the school’s job placement success rates.
The whistleblowers will receive a percentage of the settlement proceeds as their reward under the qui tam provisions of the False Claims Act.