Nurses sue New York to get licenses back after school fraud

The state has asked 900 nurses to surrender their licenses after the schools they attended in Florida were accused of selling degrees, but in a new lawsuit, an attorney for some of those nurses said the state failed to provide them with due process and that they give them their licenses back.

“It was a mass email sent to everyone suggesting that the school they were attending was accused of selling fraudulent degrees. There are no allegations directly against the individual nurses, at least not those I represent,” attorney Jesse Baldwin told NY1.


What you need to know

  • The state has asked 900 nurses to surrender their licenses after the schools they attended in Florida were accused of selling diplomas
  • But in a new lawsuit, an attorney for some of those nurses said the state did not give them due process and should give them their licenses back.
  • An attorney for some of the nurses said he has submitted evidence that the nurses he represents attended school, such as personal or remote class logs, travel expenses or records of clinical hours

The state sent that demand last February, after the schools from which the nurses graduated were part of a federal investigation into fraudulent degrees and transcripts called Operation Nightingale. It has resulted in several guilty pleas and convictions to date.

But Baldwin said the state Education Department, or NYSED, is breaking the law itself by not providing due process for individual nurses to defend their training and licensing. He said the email, first sent last February, intimidated several of his clients into surrendering their licenses before consulting with an attorney.

“It threatened many actions if the nurses did not send in their licenses. And some of the actions they are threatened with are illegal and beyond NYSED's control. Many of them cannot afford a fair trial,” he said.

After returning their licenses, the nurses were listed as inactive and unable to work.

“You cannot surrender a license in New York simply by mailing it. There is a process that protects the rights of the individuals who have earned their licenses,” he said. “None of that happened here.”

Meanwhile, nurses who attended the same schools but chose not to return their licenses are still practicing.

Baldwin said he has submitted evidence that the nurses he represents attended school, such as personal or remote class logs, travel expenses or records of clinical hours.

“Concerns about having appropriate nursing training are a legitimate concern of the state. But we have nurses here who actually went through a process that at least to them looked like completely legitimate training, and which I think from the outside, for the most part, it would look like that to most people. Well,” Baldwin said. “And now that they have their license, they have rights. And their rights basically mean that their cases must be considered individually. And so far, as far as I know, New York hasn't done that.”

The state education department said it would not comment on pending litigation.

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