U.S. Dept. of Education requiring PTC take action due to failure to meet financial standards

OAKDALE, Pa. — 11 Investigates is learning new information about the financial status of a local technical college. Like so many other schools, Pittsburgh Technical College in Oakdale has been suffering from declining enrollment and lost revenue.

The college’s President and CEO, Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith has also been under fire after an independent investigation last year found potential misconduct and mismanagement of money. Audited financial statements followed, showing the school was failing debt covenants and needed to consider mergers and acquisitions.

Now, the U.S. Dept. of Education says Pittsburgh Technical College has failed to take financial responsibility and has one week to notify them which of two different options they choose to become either financially responsible or provisionally certified.

Bryce Bladen is a second-year student at PTC in the graphic design program. He says he and other students have dealt with instructors leaving, some mid-quarter. He says he doesn’t feel many students know the truth about the financial standing of their school.

“We don’t want to be in a situation where we have to worry about our education,” Bladen tells 11 Investigates.

Bladen says he met with President and CEO, Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith for nearly two hours and felt like she talked a lot, but didn’t do a lot of listening.

“It’s transparency,” Bladen says. “That’s the big problem in my mind.”

11 Investigates has reported on the audited financial statements that gave PTC a financial score of 0.0 out of a maximum of 3.0.

“How is that not supposed to raise alarm bells in your head?” Bladen added.

The U.S. Department of Education is reaffirming the college’s financial score of 0.0 and wrote in a letter to PTC that the college has until March 31 to meet the following requirements or risk students losing access to financial aid. The letter states PTC has until February 29 to notify the D.O.E. which of the following options it’s going to choose:

  • Submit financial protection for $8,329,090 to qualify as being ‘financially responsible.’
  • Submit financial protection for $2,394,570 to be ‘provisionally certified.’

It’s possible in the case of option B that the D.O.E. could require personal guarantees by each board member and the president for provisional certification.

The letter goes on to state, that this assures the Secretary of the D.O.E. “That funds would be available from which to make refunds, provide teachout facilities and meet institutional guidelines to the department.”

Multiple sources tell 11 Investigates the President’s entire cabinet has resigned in the last year and a half including:

  • CFO
  • CIO
  • VP of Education
  • VP Student Services
  • VP Enrollment Management
  • VP Marketing
  • VP Campus Services
  • AVP Financial Aid
  • Chief of Staff
  • Executive Director of Advancement
  • DEI Director
  • General Counsel

Bladen says communications with the President have come across as intimidating to some.

“Even as a student who should be protected to state his opinions, I’m like, ‘should I lawyer up?’ Should I get someone to protect me?’”

We reached out to PTC with a list of questions to get their side, including their financial score of 0, if they’d been approved by a bank to meet the U.S. D.O.E requirements and all of the cabinet departures.

President and CEO, Dr. Alicia Harvey-Smith responded with the following, reading in part:

“At this time, PTC will not be responding to your statements/questions, some of which are outright speculation.”

PTC did not specify which questions they felt were speculation.

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