Ernesto Armando Perez, the former owner and chairman of the now defunct Dade Medical College, Inc. (DMC) and University of Southernmost Florida (USMF), has been criminally charged for violating existing Florida law regulating the closing of independent postsecondary education institutions. DMC and USMF were first granted licenses as independent Florida postsecondary educational institutions in March and September of 2000. On Friday, October 30, 2015, both DMC and USMF closed their doors to students as well as employees.
An independent postsecondary education institution that closes is required by law to do at least four things:
First, at least 30 days prior to closing, it must notify the Commission for Independent Education (the Commission) in writing of its intent to close.
Second, it must organize an orderly closure of the institution.
Third, to ensure an orderly closure, it must provide a plan to the Commission for the completion of training of its students. The Commission must approve any such plan before it is put into effect.
Fourth, the institution must convey all student records to the Commission office or to another location designated by the Commission or its staff.
Ernesto Armando Perez took none of these required steps. The Commission was not informed of the closing prior to October 30th and neither were the students or the employees. Instead, students and employees were informed via an email sent by Ernesto Armando Perez at approximately 4:00 p.m., and which the Commission staff received at approximately 5:00 p.m. on October 30th, 2015. The Commission filed a Final Order of Improper Institutional Closure on August 5th, 2016.
“Those students who placed their trust in Ernesto Perez and these two educational institutions, now have debts instead of degrees,” remarked State Attorney Katherine Fernandez Rundle. “If the law had been followed and proper efforts taken to assist students, at least hope could remain alive. School employees, locked out of their work place without any advance notice, appear to have fared no better.”
Ernesto Armando Perez is being charged with two counts of Improper School Closure, a second degree misdemeanor.
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