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LSC, former students reach settlement over unaccredited sonography program

Lake Superior College has reached a settlement with 16 former students who sued the school, alleging that they were put at a disadvantage in the job industry because their degrees came from an unaccredited program.

The former students, graduates of the school’s diagnostic medical sonography program, sued in May 2013, with each seeking more than $50,000 in damages.

The case was settled out of court last week, canceling a scheduled November jury trial, representatives of both parties confirmed. Terms of the agreement were not immediately released.

“We’ve successfully resolved all issues against Lake Superior College and (Minnesota State Colleges and Universities),” Gary Halom, the Superior attorney representing the plaintiffs, told the News Tribune. “I think the clients were very satisfied with the outcome.”

School spokesman Gary Kruchowski noted that the settlement stipulates that there is no admission or finding of liability against the school. The school had moved for summary judgment last month.

“The settlement will eliminate the substantial costs of going to trial for the college and the plaintiffs, and will allow Lake Superior College to direct its focus on educating our students,” Kruchowski said in a prepared statement.  “We remain committed to providing high quality, affordable higher education that benefits diverse learners, employers and the community.”

The students were enrolled in a two-year program, which they claim should have allowed them to pursue jobs that practice the medical procedure using ultrasound equipment to produce visual images of babies, organs, tissues or blood flow inside patients’ bodies.

However, they claimed in the suit that the university misled them and made false promises regarding accreditation. None of the students were able to take the certification examination to work as diagnostic medical sonographers, according to the complaint.

The program has since been suspended and its onetime director, Robert Naughton, is no longer employed at the school.