If you are thinking about or find it necessary to close or otherwise cease operation of a private occupational school which currently is regulated by the Colorado Division of Private Occupational Schools (“Division”), please be aware that there are statutory requirements and serious responsibilities associated with the closing process. The information provided within is to clarify and guide you through key requirements and responsibilities. Remember throughout this school closing process the most important considerations are to protect students and preserve student and other essential school records.
School Closure Process:
In the event of a school closing and ceasing operations, the school owner or designee is required to:
I. Notify the Division and currently enrolled or recruited students immediately of intention to close/cease operation or the school.
It is extremely important to provide the Division with as much advance notice of a school closure as possible so Division staff can assist the school in complying with the legal requirements to ensure student protection and preservation of essential student and school records.
Notification to the Division must be completed via DPOS Connect and will require the following information:
- Name of the school;
- Name of the school owner, active mailing address and telephone number where they may be reached after the school physically closes;
- Name of the school director, active mailing address and telephone number where they may be reached after the school physically closes;
- Date of closure (or anticipated closing date);
- A report of the status of all students currently enrolled and those students on leave of absence whose education and training program will not be fully completed by the date of the school’s closure;
- Identify whether there are refunds due to any students;
- If required, a copy of the train/teach-out plan; and
- A copy of the written notice given to students informing them of the school’s intent to close.
II. Treatment of School’s Educational; Financial; and Student Records. In addition to the above requirements for informing the Division and enrolled students of a school’s intent to cease operation, schools are required by law to submit to the Division certain records in electronic format within 60 days of closure. Once all student records are ready, a Division staff member will provide instructions to the school owner or designee on how to upload the electronic records to the Division for preservation.
For all students who attended during the period TWO YEARS PRIOR TO CLOSURE:
- A list of all students who attended the school during this period,
- Student financial records, including enrollment agreements, ledger cards or records of student payments, and
- Refund calculations for all students who attended the school for this time period.
For all students who attended since the school began operation:
- All student educational records including transcripts, records of completion, diplomas, and certificates. The student transcript must be in a form that provides at a minimum (1) the student’s name; (2) title of program or course; (3) total number of hours and method of delivery; (4) dates of enrollment; (5) grade record of each course; (6) cumulative grade for the program or course; and (7) explanation of grading system. When preparing the official electronic student transcripts to be deposited with (turned over to) the Division for permanent State custody and maintenance, the Division prefers and requests the transcripts to be alphabetized based on the students’ last name.
- It is acceptable for the school to maintain its records once it is no longer operating as a DPOS-approved school if the school is continuing to operate in other locations or has met an approved DPOS exemption. The school is required to submit to the Division a list of students who attended from two years prior to closure and the school contact information for directing students requiring copies of their records and transcripts.
III. School’s Certificate of Approval. A School which is closing or otherwise ceasing operation, must physically turn over it’s current Certificate of Approval to the Division.
IV. “Train or teach-out” preferred alternative. The best option for students faced with a school closure is to continue their education and training in order to obtain their certificate or degree. Generally, this is accomplished by students taking part in a “teach-out” or “train-out” agreement, under which (1) either the students complete their studies at the original school in which they are enrolled, before it closes or (2) arrangements are made and students are given an opportunity to complete their studies at another state-approved school which offers substantially the same training. A teach-out is intended to fulfill the original contract between the closing school and the student. If a teach out is arranged for another approved school to do the remaining occupational training, that other school must provide comparable education/ training and agree that students transferring from the closing school will pay only what cost of tuition/fees remains unpaid, according to the terms and conditions found in the enrollment agreement entered into between the student and the closing school. Remember: The idea behind a train-out arrangement with another school is to substitute another approved school’s comparable occupational training at no additional cost to the student than what had been originally contemplated. The Division will work with the closing school to determine if a teach-out can be made available. The option of a teach-out is voluntary and a student may decline such a teach-out arrangement. (Please, see below).
V. Tuition Refund Claims and Surety Bond Process. As identified in section 23-64-121(5)(a), of the Colorado Revised Statutes, in the event a school ceases operation, the student is entitled to a 100% refund of prepaid, unearned tuition and fees at the time of school closure unless a teach-out is available and accepted by the student. The option of a teach-out is voluntary. Although encouraged to do so, a closing school need not arrange it and a student does not have to accept it. Please, be advised that according to statute, any student enrolled in a school that ceases operation, and who does not accept a teach-out, may file a claim with the Division against the school’s surety for refund of the prepaid, unearned tuition and fees which the student asserts he or she paid. There is an established, objective regulatory process and procedure involving interaction among the Division, the closing school, its surety company and in some cases the Board of Private Occupational Schools, under which such student refund claims on a closing school are determine to be bona fide and payable on the surety.
For technical assistance and if you have questions regarding “How to Close a School”, please contact your school's assigned Program Specialist.
In addition, the U.S. Department of Education has designed Closed School Guidelines for school owners and administrators to assist students in continuing their education. This guide is particularly beneficial for schools that receive federal Title IV student assistance funds.
Closed School Guide - provided by the U.S. Department of Education.