Sawyer School

students signing into fair to get their records
Flo Jonic

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Students of the defunct Sawyer School were reunited with their academic transcripts Thursday at a fair run by the state Office of Higher Education. The for-profit trade school closed abruptly just after Christmas, leaving 300 students in Rhode Island and another 1,200 in Connecticut with nowhere to go. 

The Sawyer School in Providence
Elisabeth Harrison

(PROVIDENCE, RI) Help is on the way for the more than 300 students displaced by the recent closure of the Sawyer vocational school in Providence. 

The state Office of Higher Education will hold a day-long meeting next week for students displaced by the closure of the Sawyer School in Providence. More than 300 students in Rhode Island and another 1,200 in Connecticut were shocked to see the school close abruptly just after Christmas.

The Sawyer School was apparently bleeding federal aid prior to its abrupt closure on New Year's Day. The Federal Department of Education says the for-profit school had gone from nearly $7.5 million in federal tuition dollars for the 2011-2012 academic year down to $2 million this year.

What happened? Well, one answer is declining enrollment. Sawyer reported 796 students in Rhode Island in the fall of 2011, but only 302 students when it shut down earlier this month.

The FBI has joined the investigation of the now-defunct Sawyer School, a for-profit technical college that closed its doors on the first of the year.

State police say they're seeking to determine whether there was any criminal wrongdoing, or whether this is simply a case of a business going under.

Either way, Sawyer's closure left roughly 300 Rhode Island students and 1,200 students in Connecticut with partially completed certificates to become medical office assistants and other office administrators.

Sawyer School in Pawtucket, RI
Elisabeth Harrison

Special Assistant to the Commissioner of the RI Board of Governors for Higher Education, Michael Trainor, talks with RIPR Morning Edition Host Elisabeth Harrison about the Sawyer School which abruptly closed this month.  Trainor discusses what safeguards are in place to protect students enrolled in for-profit schools, the status of the school at its last audit, and what RI is doing for students left stranded.

The hotline is staffed daily 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. at 401-277-5282.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) The state’s office of higher education says it’s keeping an eye on other for-profit schools in the wake of the sudden closure of a career technical school.

Joshua Miller had three months left to graduate
Catherine Welch

(PROVIDENCE, RI) The Rhode Island Office of Higher Education says it’s working to secure the records of some 1,500 students left in the lurch when a career training school abruptly closed down.

Spokesman for the Office of Higher Education, Mike Trainor, says over the weekend the state will secure the academic and financial records of the 302 Rhode Island students and 1,200 Connecticut students. He says all of the school’s records, going back to 1964, are on paper so it will take a while to sort everything out.

  • Who’s overseeing the state’s public schools, colleges and universities? The answer… it’s not clear, and it’s complicated.

The State Senate voted unanimously on Thursday to delay creation of a State Board of Education to replace the Board of Regents for Elementary and Secondary Schools and the Board of Governors for Higher Education. The vote comes after those two boards dissolved on January 1st, leaving a question mark about who is in charge of the state’s K-12 public schools and three institutions of higher education.

(PROVIDENCE, RI) A Providence technical college has abruptly closed its doors, leaving more than 300 students with tuition paid but no classes to go to.  

The Sawyer School, which specializes in training medical secretaries, abruptly closed its doors on New Year’s Day.  Some students received a letter saying classes were permanently suspended. Others received nothing.