DORCHESTER COUNTY, SC (WCSC) - It 'disappeared overnight.' That's how Bettie Jarrell describes what happened to the Academy of Health Sciences she's been attending since August. According to the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education the academy isn't licensed and now it's been packed up and moved taking with it students hard earned money and dreams.
"We knew nothing, we suspected nothing," said Jarrell. "We were just coming to class and no one showed up."
The parking lot of the Academy of Health Sciences has been empty for the last 15 days. The blinds of the two story building are closed and nobody comes to the door or answers the phone.
Bettie Jarrell says this place was her ticket to a job in health care before it disappeared overnight.
"On Tuesday we showed up for class and the building was locked," said Jarrell.
Jarrell and at least six other students were attending classes at the commercial building off Ashley Phosphate Road, hoping to graduate with a certificate to become patient care technicians or dialysis and phlebotomy specialists, before the school flat-lined.
"I thought it was a good program and I thought it was a legitimate program," said Jarrell.
Unfortunately, Jarrell was wrong.
"They closed the school and the instructors had taken all the equipment and just left," she said, standing outside of the academy Friday. "I really feel hurt and ripped off. Right now, I'm out over $1,400."
Calls to the Academy of Health Sciences' listed number went straight to voicemail.
"Thank you for calling the Academy of Health Science," a voice on the other end of the line says cheerfully. "Our office is closed beginning November 15 at 1 p.m. and will re-open on Tuesday morning at 8:30. We will be closed for an out-of-state continuing education conference."
Jarrell says that message has been playing for the last 15 days.
The South Carolina Commission on Higher Education says they've actually dealt with the academy briefly before.
"In February this year they contacted the commission and requested a packet to get a license for what we call a non-public institution and we have not heard anything back from the school officials since then," said Renea Eshleman, who works with the commission.
Eshleman says since the academy doesn't have a license they technically don't exist on paper.
"We've had a few such as this that began training and were not authorized by the commission and took money from students and did not provide the training," says Eshleman.
Those schools have made the commission's website (http://www.che.sc.gov/) as institutions that are not properly licensed and are operating illegally.
According to Eshleman,a license is required to enroll students. That means what the Academy of Health Sciences did to Jarrell and others is illegal.
"I feel bad because I don't have a job and I was looking forward to doing something that I really enjoy doing and that's helping people," said Jarrell.
If you have attended this academy or others like it, you are asked to call the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education at (803) 737-3918.
Since the academy never legally existed according to Eshleman, the next step for Jarrell and her classmates is to talk to police. She says that is the first thing she will do Monday morning.