According to The News Journal, Bright Rock Christian Academy, which provides a number of education services, is under investigation by the Delaware Department of Justice’s consumer fraud unit and ordered by a Superior Court judge to cease all operations.
About 73% of Americans say that religion is very important to them, and even though the school has undergone multiple name changes since 2006 (Bertha E. Roach Academy, Bertha Roach Christian High School, Bertha Roach Christian School, Bertha Elizabeth Roach Christian School, B.E.R. Academy, B.E.R. Christian High School, and Bright Rock Christian Academy), it has continued to deceive students whose dreams of pursuing higher education were incredibly important to them as well.
Brick Rock Christian Academy’s services are primarily geared toward adult education. The school’s Facebook page, which is currently shut down, featured smiling students donning caps and gowns, waving their diplomas. The offer itself seemed just as gimmicky, convincing prospective students that they, too, could have a “fully-accredited high school diploma in as little as five weeks,” for the low price of just $500.
Half of the public school workforce is made up of teachers. The other 50% are guidance counselors, nurses, speech therapists, etc. Even though the school’s faculty and staff may have been fully qualified, the diplomas the school was giving out were not recognized by the Department of Education.
“It’s not even worth the paper it is written on,” said GED prep course instructor Jonathan Wilson in May of the school’s diplomas and other certifications. “People who don’t have a diploma are a vulnerable population.”
Since the start of the investigation back in May, the school has been deemed a “diploma mill,” and The News Journal said at the time that the investigation had arisen because the school had been selling “dreams of employment and higher education to impoverished African-American communities in Wilmington and Dover.”
In 2016, Dyheim Watson, chief executive officer of educational consultant company Recovery Educational Services, has so far been the only person to respond to inquiries regarding the investigation. Last Wednesday, Watson said that he was unaware that the school had been ordered to cease operations and was under the impression that Bright Rock had been working with investigators and providing appropriate documentation.
“All the documents have been sent,” Watson said. “We haven’t seen the injunction.”
For parents who send their kids to private schools, 80% are happy with the academic standards. But when a school is branding its education to be on par with programs that offer diplomas accredited by the Department of Education, it can seem nearly impossible to determine whether or not it’s truly reputable.
Fortunately, The News Journal has a number of tips from the DOJ Consumer Protection Unit to help consumers and prospective students protect themselves against fraudulent education programs and services in Delaware.
First, take to the Internet to do research about the organization to see which accreditations and certifications it has. The U.S. Department of Education is an excellent resource.
Keep in mind that any program offering a diploma, degree, or certification within a short period of time for a large fee and little academic performance is also likely to be a scam.
Finally, don’t be afraid to inquire to the organization directly: ask about past alumni, curriculum, academic standards, and other information people would seek about any learning institution.
According to the Department of Justice, the injunctions and sanctions will stay implemented until officials respond to the court’s demand for documents. In the meantime, any consumer who believes they may have fallen victim to a similar scam should contact the Attorney General’s toll-free Consumer Hotline at 1-800-220-5424 or email the Consumer Protection Unit of DOJ at email@example.com.