HOUSTON (CN) - A Texas online high school claims its diplomas are nationally accredited and accepted by colleges and the U.S. military, though in fact "consumers pay hundreds of dollars for a worthless piece of paper," the Texas attorney general claims in court.
Texas sued Lincoln Academy and its owners in a public interest complaint in Harris County Court.
"Defendants operate a fraudulent online high school diploma mill, headquartered in Houston, Texas, known as Lincoln Academy, which sells bogus online high school diplomas to consumers nationwide, including Texas, for fees starting at $299," the complaint states.
The school lures consumers with outright lies about its qualifications, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott says in the lawsuit.
"Defendants claim to provide an 'official' and 'accredited' high school diploma that consumers can use to apply to college, enlist in the military, or apply for a job," the complaint states. "But defendants' program provides no coursework, no instruction, and no legitimate textbooks or reference materials. Despite defendants' claims that students will have access to 'state-certified teachers' and '24/7 tutoring services,' in fact consumers receive little to no value from the goods and services purchased from the defendants."
Lincoln Academy's educational program is nothing more than an online test that takes less than four hours, and is far below the level expected of a high school graduate, with questions like, "Who was the first president of the United States?" Texas says in the lawsuit.
"Simply paying the fee of $299 and taking the online test ... and receiving a passing grade are all this is required for the consumer to receive a Lincoln Academy diploma, along with a falsified transcript - all in as little as one week," the complaint states.
The school claims it charges a flat fee, but it charges more for students to make the "honor roll" and for study guides that it ripped off from the Texas Education Agency in violation of copyright laws, the attorney general says.
Lincoln Academy claims it "has been 'educating students for over thirty-five years," though it actually opened in 2010, Texas adds.
The lawsuit includes complaints from students who say they were cheated by Lincoln Academy.
One states: "Company stated can use for employment and college and it's not true. This is a fake and they're taking innocent people's money that want a high school education."
Texas seeks a temporary restraining order to shut the school down and freeze its assets.
The lawsuit was filed Monday. A Lincoln Academy receptionist told Courthouse News on Tuesday that she was not aware of the complaint. The school did not return a phone message and email seeking comment.
Named as defendants are Lincoln Academy, National Home School Accreditation of America, High School Diploma Online, Charles J. Lubbat, David C. Lubbat, Catherine Lubbat, Nancy Lubbat, Momentive Group LLC, Momentive Apps LLC, Nyloc Enterprises LLC, Rylex LLC dba Brownstone Academy, Charles Lubbat and Constandi Lubbat.