The Business Career Training Institute (BCTI), a private career school with five campuses in Washington and two in Oregon, closed this week...

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BEAVERTON, Ore. — The Business Career Training Institute (BCTI), a private career school with five campuses in Washington and two in Oregon, closed this week amid accusations that it used deceptive recruiting practices.

The Gig Harbor-based institute suspended classes Monday at all seven locations.

Tana Stenseng, a spokeswoman with the Washington state Workforce Training and Education Coordinating Board, said the department was notified over the weekend of the closure. It affects 500 to 600 students in Washington, who studied at locations in Everett, Lacey, Tacoma, Tukwila and Vancouver, she said.

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The school offered training to thousands of students each year in office-software programs, computer skills and job hunting at a cost of $10,000 a term.

Phones at several Washington campuses were disconnected as of Monday. Company officials could not be reached for comment.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of Education said regulators were trying to clarify whether BCTI intended to close permanently.


Possible refunds:

Students who were unable to complete their BCTI training may be eligible for partial tuition refunds from the state. Students should keep their financial records and call 360-753-5673 or e-mail for more information.

An Oregon official, however, said recent actions by the school, including layoffs and furniture sales, indicate the closure could be permanent. “You add all that up, and it says ‘closing,’ ” said Ray Lindley, director of the state Education Department’s Private Schools and Specialized Programs.

In November, The Oregonian reported that the school had enrolled unqualified students at its Beaverton campus and pressured instructors to pass them. The Oregonian also found that the school had used other questionable recruiting methods and inflated job-placement rates.

The Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board has asked the school to repay $63,000 in state grants for low-income students after the school admitted falsifying enrollment tests to admit unqualified students. Oregon placed the school on probation last month for “unfair and deceptive” recruiting and admissions practices.

Students said they received calls from BCTI workers Sunday night telling them not to show up for class Monday. A sign at BCTI’s Beaverton campus referred students to state and federal education regulators for tuition refunds.

In recent weeks, the school had laid off dozens of staff members, stopped enrolling students in both states and consolidated classroom space. But students, workers and regulators said they had been reassured by school officials that BCTI would finish teaching classes.

Terrie Porter, a BCTI student in Everett, said she took out an estimated $16,000 in student loans and received $4,000 in federal worker-retraining money to attend two 145-day computer courses at the school. She was scheduled to get her completion certificate in May. “It feels to me like it was all worth nothing,” Porter said.

Seattle Times staff contributed to this report.