ECPI University files lawsuit against state agency

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. (WAVY) — A local university has filed a lawsuit against the Virginia Department of Veterans Services (DVS) State Approving Agency.

On Wednesday, WAVY.com reported state officials will no longer allow military members, or their families, to use GI Bill benefits at ECPI University’s Medical Careers Institute (MCI) in Virginia Beach.

WAVY.com has spoken to several students since the announcement about a withdrawal of benefits. Students have said they were concerned when they heard the news. But, ECPI has since said current students will be able to finish their education under a Veterans Choice Scholarship, which the school will provide.

As veterans and their dependents continue their classes, ECPI is appealing to the courts to reverse the decision with a lawsuit filed on Thursday.

DOCUMENT: Petition of Appeal 

Whitney Moore is one of the 232 students who was using the GI Bill to pay for her Medical Assisting education at MCI’s Virginia Beach campus.

“That’s what we rely on when we go to school,” said Moore about the GI Bill. “We don’t have any worries when we go to school.”

The decision to withdraw those benefits at MCI left Moore and other with a lot of questions. Not only about how they will pay for their education, but also why it is happening in the first place.

The lawsuit, filed by attorneys with McGuireWoods LLP in Norfolk, called the State Approving Agency’s decision “wrongful and unlawful.”

DVS had previously stated it received a complaint, which led to an investigation at the end of September. The agency said MCI was changing policies without notice and withholding student transcripts, to name a few.

In the lawsuit, ECPI denys claims made by DVS. It explains the investigation was focused on concerns coming out of the nursing program.

The lawsuit says, “The termination of MCI’s ability to enroll veterans because of a curriculum change is factually unfounded, legally erroneous, and an unprecedented attack on MCI’s ability to manage its educational programs. If left unreversed, it will also displace hundreds of veteran students and disrupt their studies.”

ECPI wants the decision reversed and for costs and attorney fees to be paid for.

Moore said she too would like to see the problem worked out and the decision reversed so other vets can have the same experience as her.

“Instead of suspending everybody they should have just went to that program and said, ‘We have a problem with the curriculum,'” explained Moore. “And they could have fixed it that way. Instead of shocking 232 veterans.”

Several MCI students have reached out to WAVY.com since the initial report. However, many of the students are enrolled at the Newport News campus. The students have explained the same problems in the nursing program that DVS is reporting.

DVS has said the Newport News campus, along with Richmond and North Chesterfield campus, have been suspended, too.

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