ConsumerWatch: Bay Area Dental Hygiene Program Abruptly Shutting Down

SAN JOSE (CBS 5) — Students at an expensive Bay Area vocational school are scrambling after a letter from the school told them their program was suddenly shutting down.

Thanh Nguyen and her classmates at the Institute of Medical Education are worried their degrees and their futures are in jeopardy. This week, students in the school’s dental hygiene program were told it is shutting down effective immediately.

“I just go to the class everyday and today they come to the class and tell me there is no school today. Just take a day off, go home,” Nguyen said.

The letter comes as a shock to the students, who have so far invested $35,000 in the 18 month program and are supposed to take their licensing exams this spring. Students are now worried they might not be qualified to take them.

“We’re currently running out of time to make up our clinic hours. We’re uncertain if we’re going to be able to meet them,” said student Erica Hernandez.

On Wednesday, the school’s CEO spoke briefly to CBS 5 ConsumerWatch and did not answer our questions.

Since then, IME’s CEO Sunil Vethody provided a statement responding to the claims.
Download statement from Institute of Medical Education (.doc)

Some second year hygiene students told ConsumerWatch they could come to school but their graduation date has been moved up from April to this month. The situation has left them desperate to finish their lab work.

“I think it’s a very dangerous situation,” said Jenny Young, a former instructor at the school. She said there was constant staff turnover. Young also said she didn’t have the necessary supplies to teach.

I don’t have dental impression material, I don’t have books and I don’t have all the supplies,” Young said. “And so, teaching without supplies is very difficult.”

But that was just one sign of trouble. Late last year, a national accrediting body issued a warning that the school’s hygiene program could lose its accreditation.

“We actually sat down as a group and made formal complaints to pretty much every agency that we could contact,” said dental hygiene student Summer Latouf.

But when they complained to state agency that oversees vocational schools, the students said nothing was done. Now they’re wondering what they should do next.

Some second year students said their graduation date has been moved up again to March. The school said their San Jose and Oakland campuses are merging and may move to Fremont. As far as refunds, at least one student said she was told that is not going to happen.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

More from Julie Watts
  • Peter Ross

    Even after it was aired I couldn’t find this damn story on your website when i tried to:


    This school needs to be shut down. The owners, Sunil and Bindu Vethody have spent over 6+ years scamming students and taking their financial aid money to live their lavish lifestyle while these students are left thousands of dollars in debt with no degree.

    My heart goes out to these students who spent so much time and money trying to get a proper education, but got scammed by these greedy owners.

    How can an unaccredited program stay open for so long?!

    • singh

      They should put themselves in the shoes of the students …sacrificing years of schooling, paying tens of thousands of dollars and ending up wasting every effort.

      Please post up their address so every single student can find them and demand their money back !!!

    • Live Ethically

      Anyone have any idea where these monies thirsty vampires are? Are they in state prison and put in there for life?

  • athena

    Im in the program, and as far as i know, we are accredited by CODA and WASC. We even communicated with them, and they confirmed that we are going to graduate with the degree and be able to get our license. Unfortunately, we are the first and last batch. The real problem is we are going to lose our financial aid on April, but we are expected to graduate before that date. The truth of the matter of fact, ERICA HERNANDEZ is delayed with her payments and has not been paying which jeopardizes her graduation because it is the school rule. The letter that stated school is closing Febraury 3,2012 refers to the juniors, and there was another letter that ammends the February 3 in which it is stated that the seniors will continue to graduate.

    • Joseph

      What about the second batch of students? Don’t you think the school should give their money back since the school responsible for keeping CODA and WASC accredited for them too?

      If you look at IME’s website,, the Commission on Dental Accreditation is intended to withdraw accreditation from IME in February 2012 unless the school is willing to fix the problems founded by them. The school don’t want to fix the problems. That is why they either kick the students out or is in hurry to get them out of the school.

      If the IME school is a good school, why is CODA intended to withdraw accreditation from the school, and why is the school is in a hurry to get the students out of the school? Don’t you think the people in charge of the school is responsible for the students and is at fault for letting this happen ?

      I think Erica Hernandez worries that if she keeps paying more money for the school, but in the end she got nothing for it. The school already shows that they don’t care for the Junior students, why do they care about you.

      I think is good of her that she raises her concern about the school so that other people know this school and other schools like it.

      I think is a shame of you to bad mouth about her since you are one of her classmate. I also think that is a shame of the school to do these kinds of things to their students.

  • JC

    The dental hygiene program it’s not the only program at the school that has many problems, LVN, MRI and Ultrasound have a long list of complains against the school. LVN students have been waiting for a long time to get their externship location. Some students have graduated since 2009 and they have never received their assign externships. Every time they call for information and the status of their externship location they never get answers. The accrediTation from LVN program was also denied/removed. The dental hygiene program it’s still operating but they should not be allowed to operate since it clearly states in the CODA website that they intend to withdraw their initial AccrediTation from Institute of Dental Education. IF CODA (COMMISSION ON DENTAL ACCREDITATION) intends to withdraw their accreditation from INSTITUTE OF MEDICAL EDUCATION it’s because they have enough complains and they have found that the school has not meet the requirements they need to be accredited.

  • IME student

    Everyone knew about what was going on at IME. We understand that all the students that are close to their graduation wanted to finish and get their certificate. Unfortunately, the letter clearly stated that the Dental Hygiene Program is officially closed as of February 3, 2012. The letter was already reported to BPPE and they are investigating this matter. I hope that the CEO Sunil Vethody and his wife Bindu Vethody will stop taking advantage of the students and government money.

    • Victoria

      I think the school should closed. The students are not properly train and are not teaching by the experienced instructors. There are too many turned over instructors and program directors. The CEO Sunil and his wife Bindu Vethody should be in jail and should return all the money back to the students and government. I am waiting to see some judgment.

  • JaneQPublic

    These owners need to be thoroughly investigated by the California State Attorney General and CRIMINALLY CHARGED for misrepresentation & fraud (at the very least.) If their programs did not meet the requirements for accreditaion, they have taken money under false pretenses.

    From the sound of it, these were very large sums of money and these scammers are a flight risk. If they have passports or visas, these need to be IMMEDIATELY confiscated while the investigation proceeds.

    The students want to know where to go next? I would strongly suggest starting with the Attorney General’s office.

    • AJ

      IME students should take JaneQPublic’s suggestion and report to Attorney General’s office before the owners run away with all your money.
      As soon as they get out of the country and return to India, it will be hard to capture them. They clearly took advantage of all these poor students. I hope the students will look at the long term rather than just now. You will get the respect that you deserve.

  • John

    The problem is not with closing the program down, its more of what those students who wasted their year by studying and thinking that one day they will get their degrees have nothing left now, They have no where to go. The only way is to start a new year at a different college, But who is going to give these students guarantee that next college they apply to won’t close down because of financial problems similar to this college.This is such a heart breaking news. The CEO Sunil Vethody and his wife should be put into jail for cheating with students career, their future, and their lives. These students need justice!!!!!

  • AK

    I have a feeling that the students at IME dental hygiene school in San Jose are very desperate. That is why they try to cover up every thing for the school and the management people. I have heard so many bad things about this school quite some time ago. I wonder why the school still open and I’m very fearful about these students to graduate without the proper training and with so many short cut. I had visited the clinic once and will never return back there again.
    I applause those students who have come forward for the interview. I congratulate Ms. Erica Hernandez and Ms. Summer Latouf for having the courage to speak up. People like you will be very successful in the future and the truth will set you free. People should believe in doing the right thing. I’m glad there still some decent people living in this earth and honest. May God bless you all.

  • Brent Packman

    i was a patient of Summer Latouf last year at the clinic in San Jose…I think very highly of her professionalism..

    She is on her way to a wonderful career as a dental hygenist and I wish her much sucess…

  • IME student


  • Rusty

    Anyone who is foolish enough to spend 35K on an 18 month ticky tack program deserves to be ripped.

    • Christine

      Shame on you for your statement! You obviously are not one of the students that are affected by this, because if you were, I can guarantee that your view towards this will be completely different. There are people’s lives being greatly affected; students that have studied hard and are trying to make something of themselves and are now left with nothing because of shady and greedy owners!

  • Christine

    The school itself is open and running, but the Hygiene Program is closed as of February 3, 2012; as it states in the letter received by each of the Hygiene students. You say “we” can provide violation warnings from records of Summer and Erica; how would that confidential information in the student’s file be released to just anyone? The CEO should have spoken to reporters to straighten out the situation and shed some light for the students…instead, he slams the doors in the reporters face…obviously hiding something. If you’re not doing something wrong, there is nothing to hide. If you ask me, I think this review is fake! You don’t seem like a student who is furious with the school for taking your money, closing down your program abruptly, and giving you less than a month to finish clinical hours that would have taken you until April to finish.

  • ANON

    Any idiot who is willing to spend 35k on a short-lived education deserves to be ripped off. Why don’t you go to a REAL school and get your 4-year degree for half the price? Stupid much? I think so. Stop being LAZY go to school and put in the time. Vocational schools are full of BS, don’t you people already know this?

    • Christine

      It is not a short-lived education. What exactly do you consider to be a real school? It is an intense 2 year program, just like Carrington (formerly Western Career College), Diablo Valley College, and Foothill. I personally don’t think any of the students are being lazy as they are putting in 2 years of their time into this extensive program; pulling all nighters to study for tests and doing clinical work! No one deserves to be ripped off. They all just have bad luck and trusted a school who misrepresented themselves and ripped off their students. I find it funny that people are bashing on the students, when clearly, it’s the owners to blame. Please get your facts straight before making such a bold statement.

      • ANON

        No get YOUR facts straights. VOCATIONAL SCHOOLS offer 18-month programs for students that want to finish “fast.” The students who typically enroll in these institutions want to get in and get out in the end to only collect a CERTIFICATE? IT’S NOT EVEN A DEGREE!

        Why spend $$$ for a certificate when you can get your Bachelor’s Degree at a state college or university where you know their program is stable for a lot cheaper too? Doesn’t make sense.

  • joseph

    Today I went to IME’s website, It’s written that the school is accredited by Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) to June, 2016. However, when I went to the WASC’s website,, to look for schools accredited by WASC. I did not see IME name anywhere. Am I looking at the wrong place? Maybe someone could point me where it is. It’s also interesting from this website is that Everygreen College and San Jose City College are on warning and on probation by WASC.

    Anyway, the IME’s website also indicates that WASC has voluntarily withdrew its participation from the U.S. Department of Education in Oct. 2010. As as result, IME has lost its eligibility to participant in financial aid. If that is the case, why the IME school is still taking financial aid money from the students ever since WASC voluntarily withdrew its participation?

    If the school is loosing its eligibility to participant in financial aid and that the Commission on Dental Accreditation is intended to withdraw accreditation from IME in February 2012 (see IME’s website above), is that the reason why the school is trying to take the students money as much as possible and try to close down the Hygiene Program (maybe the school too)?

  • Anon

    I actually worked at this horrible place for a few months. I left because the CEO was so inappropriate having the staff drink during every event! He got so drunk once that he passed out in a teachers classroom for 5 days and didn’t even remember the event the next day! I was so relieved to leave this place. I feel sooo horrible for these students!! But the CEO totally had this coming! The whole place should be shut down.

  • Autumn

    This is such a shame for these students. To be in such a significant amount of debt for only an associates doesn’t make sense. Dental hygiene jobs are EXTREMELY hard to come by and this is a problem all over the country. These “for profit schools” should be banned everywhere. They open up all over the place, charge $30-40,000 in tuition for only 18 months of learning and graduate so many hygienists that it floods the market. Students who go into these schools just want to graduate faster in hopes for a better life for themselves. They probably don’t know any better, I didn’t when I went to DH school…however I went to a community college and only spent less than $10,000 on my A.A.S degree. Anyone pursuing a degree in dental hygiene please get your bachelors degree. You’ll spend the same amount of money, if not less for a more meaningful degree. The “for profit schools” sicken me. I hope these students get their money back.

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