Capitol Alert

Facing closure, Heald College accuses Kamala Harris of hampering sale

Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Heald College’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, in 2013 for alleged deceptive practices. Heald says it is hampering its ability to find a new buyer.
Attorney General Kamala Harris sued Heald College’s parent company, Corinthian Colleges, in 2013 for alleged deceptive practices. Heald says it is hampering its ability to find a new buyer. Los Angeles Times

Facing deadlines with creditors and potential closure in the coming weeks, the president of Heald College released an open letter to Attorney General Kamala Harris on Wednesday, asking for leniency as the school attempts to secure a buyer.

“We need your help to save Heald College, and we need it soon,” President and CEO Eeva K. Deshon wrote. “We are in grave danger of being closed because of unreasonable demands being made by lawyers in the Attorney General’s office who are suing our parent organization – demands that if not resolved will result in the shameful destruction of Heald College.”

Heald, which operates campuses in Roseville, Rancho Cordova and eight other California cities, was purchased in 2010 by Corinthian Colleges. The troubled for-profit chain has crumbled over the past year under financial pressure from federal and state officials; Harris sued Corinthian in 2013, claiming it had deceived prospective students about the value of their degrees and sought out low-income, vulnerable people with aggressive, false advertising.

Deshon’s letter touts Heald’s 150-year history and argues that it should not be held liable for Corinthian’s practices in just the past few. It says the school has attracted several interested buyers that have been “discouraged” by the attorney general’s office’s insistence on “overly burdensome oversight” of the school, “onerous financial conditions” and threats of litigation.

“Blocking the sale by imposing unreasonable demands only serves to punish our students and employees,” Deshon wrote. “All we ask is that potential buyers not be threatened with devastating lawsuits for alleged conduct of prior ownership so that Heald College can survive under new ownership and continue to serve its students.”

The school contends that it needs a serious offer by next week or it will not have time to secure the deal and it may be forced to close its doors. It faces a potential loss of Cal Grant eligibility because of its uncertain future.

In a statement, Kristin Ford, a spokeswoman for the attorney general’s office, said, “Our litigation with Corinthian is ongoing but our approval is not required for the sale of the college. We will continue to act aggressively to pursue relief and restitution for students at Heald and other Corinthian Colleges Inc. campuses.”

Call The Bee’s Alexei Koseff, (916) 321-5236. Follow him on Twitter @akoseff.

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