With the scope of a dollars-for-degrees scandal at Touro College widening, students are wondering if their diplomas might become worthless
"I'm concerned because when I apply for a job, they are going to wonder about my diploma," said Marianne Dean, 28, who just completed her first semester at the school's Center for Integrated Teacher Education.
"I have to think whether I am going to sign up for more classes. It doesn't have a good reputation anymore. I can't afford to spend the money if my degree is going to be worthless," she said.
The hand-wringing comes a day after the Manhattan District Attorney's Office announced the indictment of two school administrators for operating a phony diploma and grade-fixing mill, the operation's "bag man" and four people who spent thousands for shady sheepskins.
Prosecutors said they were continuing to investigate and believe the number of those involved could skyrocket into the thousands.
The alleged mastermind, Andrique Baron, skulked around his high-end electronics-stuffed, $500,000 Elmont, L.I., home yesterday and refused to comment.
Jade Richardson, who is planning to transfer to a four-year college after finishing a two-year health-sciences program at Touro, said she worried she might encounter problems now.
"I don't know if other schools will accept the credits now. It is a little too early to make a rash decision like leaving. I think a lot of people are waiting to see what happens. The administration had better stand up and vouch for the work we have done."
Physical-therapy grad student Alan Berkowitzh, 21, said he was contemplating asking for a refund.
Meanwhile, officials with the New York State Department of Education - which issues licenses for many of the professions affected in the scandal - moved to determine how many had posed with a phony Touro degree.
"We are reviewing the files of all teachers and licensed professionals who have presented credentials from Touro. We have a lot of work ahead of us," said DOE spokesman Tom Dunn. "We're cooperating with the DA and launching our own investigation into the school to understand the full scope of the practice and to be certain that it stops."
And officials with the Middle States Commission on Higher Education - which accredits the school - said they were opening their own investigation into whether Touro had violated standards, raising the possibility it could lose its accreditation and access to federal and state student loans.
A spokeswoman for the school said Touro officials were cooperating with authorities in every way, but declined to comment further.
Touro is based in the city and most of its 29 locations are in the metropolitan area.
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