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900 New York nurses are trying to get their licenses back: their diplomas were revoked due to scandal


Alina Prikhodko

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At least 50 nurses are defending their licenses in New York after seven nursing schools in Florida were closed over allegations of academic integrity violations. According to timesunion, they were selling diplomas, not teaching people.

Twenty people who participated in the scheme have been found guilty or, in some cases, they have pleaded guilty. But other nurses say that just because some people were sold diplomas does not mean their diplomas were fake.

Four nurses are suing New York State to get their licenses back after they voluntarily surrendered them. Another 50 nurses refused to surrender their licenses. Those who didn't do this continue to work.

Last year, New York asked 900 nurses to voluntarily surrender their licenses because they had earned degrees from one of Florida's seven closed schools. In an email sent to nurses, Assistant State Commissioner of Professional Licensing and Practice David Hamilton explained that if they voluntarily surrender their licenses, they will be able to re-take their training, take the nursing exam, and will not be negatively impacted by the revoked license. in future.

Rights protection

The nurses' attorney, Jesse Baldwin, said the state should have held a formal hearing rather than asking them to surrender their licenses. He said the state was deliberately intimidating them. “They're scared to death,” he said. “These are hardworking immigrant families—almost all people of color.” Many of them have glowing reviews or letters of recommendation. This is a terrible tragedy."

According to the lawyer, 54 nurses passed the so-called NCLEX exam and worked in New York for at least three years without any complaints. Some of the nurses provided evidence that they had attended classes and evidence from employers that they had completed clinical hours.

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Baldwin sent a letter to the state Department of Education about each client describing their experience. “Each letter ended with a request to call or write to me. Let's talk about this so we can understand how to solve problems in a realistic and humane way. Not a single answer,” he stated. An attorney filed two lawsuits on behalf of four nurses on Jan. 31 and Feb. 8 in state Supreme Court in Albany.

The Education Department has asked nurses who refused to surrender their licenses for more information about their credentials, the spokeswoman said. This information is currently being reviewed. “Any person found to lack adequate education and training may face disciplinary action or license revocation proceedings, which remain confidential until the process is completed,” explained spokesman JP O'Hair.


According to the lawsuits, one of the nurses provided evidence that she personally attended classes at the “satellite” center in New Jersey. Some of the nurses included evidence in the lawsuit that they attended other nursing schools before transferring to one of the Florida schools, and noted that they graduated from them before the school operators were accused of selling diplomas.

Pierre Cange, who was already a licensed practical nurse, completed half of his education at a school that was not involved in the diploma scam, one of the lawsuits says. He went to Jersey College to get his nursing degree. There he completed 90 hours of clinical practice and simultaneously completed nine classes. He still had seven more to complete, which is usually two full semesters.

The guy transferred to Palm Beach School of Nursing in Florida, where he attended classes for 13 months and graduated in 2016. He provided evidence of a trip to Florida, where classes and practice in a simulation laboratory took place in person one week a month, as well as homework, quizzes and tests.

There are chances

The Florida Board of Nursing revoked the school's license in 2017 due to poor performance on nurse licensing exams. But the nonprofit school continued to operate illegally for several years, prosecutors said. It was during this period, they said, that the school was selling fake diplomas. The lawyer argues that Kange should retain his nursing license because he graduated from school before the disputed period.

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In a letter sent to the state Department of Education, Kange wrote that he worked as a nurse for 10 years (as an LPN and later as an RN) before his Palm Beach education was called into question. He has a bachelor's and master's degree. He noted that the Palm Beach School of Nursing was accredited when he attended there because he checked the accreditation before transferring there. Kange said the state approved his education when he applied to take the state nursing exam in 2016.

“As a three-time COVID-19 survivor and conscientious worker, I urge that my case be reviewed as soon as possible so that I can continue to care for my patients,” he wrote. However, not all of the information provided in the two lawsuits from other nurses provides the same evidence of training as in Kange's case.

There is no smoke without fire

Another student provided evidence that she took final exams for some nursing school classes remotely during the 2020 pandemic shutdown. But the classes and exams referred to in the emails took place after the time stamps were put in place. The letters clearly reference test preparation guidelines for nurses.

A lawyer representing the nurses said none of them wanted to talk to reporters. Meanwhile, after a hearing with the Iowa Board of Nursing, two nurses' licenses from Florida schools were revoked.

One of them told the Council that her training consisted of a one-day course to prepare for the nursing exam. Another admitted that she had not participated in any courses or clinical training, but had taken a preparation course for the national licensing exam.

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