Lower Pottsgrove >> Despite a sign in front that declares, “We’re back,” Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute has announced it’s closing again — this time for good.
The school at 1700 Industrial Highway in Lower Pottsgrove announced the closure Tuesday on its Facebook page.
“It is with a saddened heart that we announce the closing of AMPI indefinitely. Classes will resume for medical night students. Please contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org for further information. We thank you for riding the wave with us. Contact staff for further assistance. Thank You,” the post read.
Early Wednesday, the phone was not being answered and the doors were locked at the school.
Mildred Mauras, who has been serving as the school’s acting director, said the school had not had telephone or email service since late last week, but that was restored on Wednesday.
Mauras said the school was notified by owner and CEO Edward Gillespie on Monday that the school would be closing for good. The eight students in the barber program were notified Monday that their program was ending immediately; while the 20 students in the medical assistance program will continue through the end of December.
The school will not reopen in January.
“We’re in the process of transitioning all the students to other schools,” Mauras said Wednesday, adding that students will be contacted directly about next steps.
She said student transcripts are being updated, and added that schools will be coming in to speak with students next week. Mauras said she and Robin Marinari, the school’s externship director, will be in the office. Phone and internet connection has resumed, so students can contact the school directly.
“Students can come into the office and go over their files,” Mauras added.
Specifics about what promoted this latest closing of the school are not available. Emails to Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute owner and CEO Edward Gillespie were not returned by Wednesday afternoon.
The U.S. Department of Education has not yet responded to a request for additional information about the closing of the school.
However, the Department of Education has a website for information about loan forgiveness and other options for students — https://studentaid.ed.gov/sa/repay-loans/forgiveness-cancellation
The site includes different scenarios about the discharge of loans and forgiveness, including a school closing.
While there is no official information being given about why the school — which has operated in the Pottstown-area since 1986 — is closing, it is not the first time it almost closed.
This is the latest chapter in a saga that began in August. That’s when the U.S. Department of Education notified the school that its application for continued participation in federal student financial aid programs had been denied.
The August letter from the U.S. Department of Education to Gillespie indicated the decision was made based on Gillespie’s unsatisfied liabilities with another school — American Beauty Academy — that is not affiliated with Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute.
In Aug. 2016, American Beauty Academy was assessed with liabilities in the amount of nearly $5.6 million for allegedly using improper methodologies in calculating its 90/10 ratios for financial aid in 2012, 2013 and 2014.
That decision prompted school administrators to suspend classes for its then 63 students and begin sharing information about other institutions where students could complete their programs.
One week later, the Department of Education notified the school it had reversed its denial of the school’s recertification for participation in federal financial aid programs.
The department stated that after reviewing its records, officials could not confirm that notification of the assessed liabilities was delivered to American Beauty Academy, and acknowledged that American Beauty Academy officials were unable to exercise their right to appeal the assessment.
Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute quickly ramped back up to resume classes. The school also restructured its staff and faculty, according to a notice posted on the school’s website Sept. 3. Reikob, however, declined to do an updated story in the weeks following the reorganization.
By November, several staff members including Reikob had left the school, according to Mauras. A graduation ceremony was held on Nov. 18.
Gillespie told Digital First Media in August that he felt Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute could recover from the events of August.
“I believe so. There’s a need here,” he said in August. “They (The Dept. of Education) don’t understand the impact it has on the community. When they do this, they’re eliminating the jobs of the people who work there, but also impacting the community because where do the young people go — what do they do?”
Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute has been operating in Pottstown since 1986. When it was purchased by American Business Academy in 2013, the school shifted its focus solely on medical training and offered courses in medical assistant, medical office secretary and nurse aide.
In July, however, the facility launched a new course of study — a barber program.
Antonelli Medical & Professional Institute attracted students from the Pottstown area, Philadelphia, Reading and Lancaster.
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