RALEIGH, N.C. (CN) - The Apex School of Theology and its founder-president deceived students about its lack of accreditation and the effects that would have on their eligibility to become licensed counselors, four students claim in court.
Lead plaintiff DeWayne Broadney sued the Apex School of Theology, of Durham, and its founder, president and CEO Joseph E. Perkins, in Wake County Court.
Broadney et al. accuse Perkins and Apex of "misrepresentations, concealments and unfair and deceptive business practices with respect to its actual and implied accreditation status and its actual and implied 'fitness' for purpose (or 'unfitness' for purpose) of its educational products and offerings, including its Master of Arts in Christian Counseling Program". (Parentheses in complaint.)
The students say they sought to be licenses professional counselors and/or licensed marriage and family therapists. They claim Apex (ASOT) and Perkins concealed, suppressed and withheld information from them about Apex's "lack of proper accreditation, the effects lack of proper accreditation has on the plaintiffs' eligibility to obtain professional licensure, and the unfair and deceptive business practices in which ASOT engaged during the marketing, distribution, delivery and/or sale of its MACC Program education product to the plaintiffs and to other consumers in North Carolina and throughout the United States."
Broadney claims Apex "lacks regional accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools" and that this lack of accreditation disqualified him and his co-plaintiffs from satisfying the educational requirements needed to apply for licensure.
The students claim that Apex's "only accreditation is the purported 'national' accreditation awarded it by an entity that calls itself the 'Transnational Association of Christian Colleges and Schools' ('TRACS')."
But this so-called "national accreditation" is not recognized by North Carolina for purposes of licensure - nor does any state in the union recognize it as the equivalent of regional accreditation for professional licensure, the students say.
They say Apex failed to disclose this, and that they all incurred thousands of dollars in debt in quest of their education and licensure, and that the school refused to refund their money.
They seek damages for unfair and deceptive trade; unjust enrichment; negligent, wanton and reckless infliction of emotional distress; breach of fiduciary relationship and constructive fraud. They are represented by Robert Lewis Jr., of Raleigh.
President Perkins said late Tuesday afternoon that the school had not been served with the lawsuit yet.
The school's attorney did not immediately respond to a phone call made after business hours Tuesday.