Star Career Academy silent after abrubt shutdown as students seek answers
CHERRY HILL — It was another day of silence from Star Career Academy a day after the adult trade school with multiple campuses in New Jersey and New York suddenly shut its doors.
Students who received word of the closing via email on Tuesday were met by security guards at the school's New Jersey locations in Brick, Clifton, Egg Harbor and Newark as well as the affiliated ServFast Computers campus in Toms River. Calls from New Jersey 101.5 were not returned for a second day in a row.
Several other institutes such as Merit Training Institute and the Garden State Science and Technology Institute reached out to students on Facebook page offering to discuss how to continue their programs of study.
U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez, D-N.J., meanwhile, has pledged to help students and encouraged them to find out if their federal student loans qualify to be forgiven.
“No student should have to pay for their school’s mistakes. And every student should be able to complete the studies they started," Menendez said Wednesday.
Surgical Technologist Instructor Tom Kostka, who taught at Star's Brick location, created a Facebook page called Students & Staff Upset by Star Career Academy to let students vent and find help.
Kostka said it was an emotional meeting on Tuesday.
"It was a shock to everybody. Even the director of operations was crying and so upset," Kostka said, adding that it was "totally wrong" to announce the closure.
He said none of the staff is getting a severance package and accrued sick and vacation time was lost.
Kostka said he was a student at Star and was honored to return to teach alongside his former instructor after working at Capital Health Medical Center in Hopewell. He said he felt bad for his students.
"They were sent an email, a text message," he said. "These are single moms and dads trying to make a better life for themselves coming to school taking out loans and paying babysitters. I have kids in my class that couldn't afford to take the Parkway; they had to take Route 9. I was giving them change to get home faster."
In a statement, the school said they were closing "as a result of the negative financial impact of a continued declining student population while operating in the challenging for-profit post-secondary school industry. Star Career Academy has done everything in its power to prevent closure after operating for 37 years and providing a supportive educational environment for thousands of students."
Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com.
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