CALDWELL — About a month ago, Linda Timmerman paid $500 to enroll in a pharmacology class through Canyon College, a Caldwell-based online school. But when she tried to log on to the class website, she couldn’t.
She called the school and got an answering machine. Her repeated phone calls weren’t returned.
Timmerman, who lives in Texas, said she has spent $6,000 to $7,000 on classes through Canyon College over the past two years. The classes were “in-depth and hard,” she said, and she looked forward to receiving a certification and beginning a career in holistic medicine.
Now, she would be happy to get her transcripts, at least — or a refund.
“I’ve invested a huge amount of my time,” Timmerman said. “Where do I go next? Have I just wasted everything?”
Timmerman is not alone with her questions. Other students enrolled in Canyon College have complained that the school isn’t returning their calls, said Harvey Lyter, Idaho State Board of Education coordinator for private colleges and proprietary schools. Lyter said he also attempted to contact the school’s administrators about student complaints but hadn’t gotten a response.
“I wouldn’t want to characterize it with a hard number, but people have called seeking assistance with Canyon College,” Lyter said.
Meanwhile, the school’s headquarters — an office building at 111 Poplar St. — have been up for sale for 141 days, according to a local realty website.
Called Monday by the Idaho Press-Tribune, a Canyon College representative declined to give his name, but said, “We have been having a problem.”
Canyon College had to sell its offices and lay off most of its employees, he said. The school plans to complete ongoing classes but will not be enrolling new students, he added.
He apologized for any inconveniences for students, and said the school would be returning student phone calls but is currently understaffed.
He said the Idaho State Board of Education treated the school unfairly and wanted too much money in registration fees.
“We’re seeing if we can move to another state,” he said.
According to Canyon College’s website, the school has “provided access to online higher education for over 12 years and currently has approximately 700 students enrolled in its distance learning programs.”
Philip Braun is named as the school’s president.
Lyter, with the Board of Education, said Canyon College operated “under the radar” in Idaho until 2008, when the state notified the school it would need to register. The owners moved the school to California, where regulations guiding proprietary colleges had recently expired.
In 2010, new owners approached the Board of Education with plans to move the college back to Idaho, and in June 2011, they registered to operate in Idaho as a proprietary school for one year.
The registration allows the school to offer certificates, but not college credits or degrees.
State and federal governments do not recognize Canyon College as an accredited degree-granting institution, Lyter noted.
Canyon College’s website lists accreditation with The American Council on Private School Accreditation. The private agency’s website describes Canyon College, incorrectly, as a “degree-granting” institution based in Carmichael, Calif.
Donald Myers, director of accreditation services for The American Council on Private School Accreditation, said Canyon College went through a “long, lengthy” process to earn accreditation. However, he couldn’t provide specifics about what the process entailed, and the accreditation “requirements” tab on the agency’s website doesn’t include a working link.
Myers said he was surprised to learn Canyon College is not considered a degree-granting institution by the government.
Another private accrediting agency listed by Canyon College is the American Naturopathic Medical Accreditation Board, which doesn’t include Canyon College as a member school on its website.