Dominelli esthetics college suspended

A Burnaby esthetics college has had its registration and accreditation suspended by the provincial regulatory agency for private training institutions.

Dominelli College of Esthetics was suspended from operations as of March 21 and is currently not allowed to enroll students in any programs, including online correspondence courses, said Karin Kirkpatrick, registrar and CEO of the Private Career Training Institutions Agency of BC (PCTIA), by email.

“They are not meeting the basic education or accreditation standards of quality as set out in our bylaws.”

Among the reasons for the suspension, Kirkpatrick said, was that the school “did not provide documentation to show that any staff have completed an instructor development program or that there was an appropriately qualified distance education administrator.” 

The school was “not using an appropriate student enrollment contract” and “some student records were not being stored securely onsite and were not available to an institution officer upon a visit to the school.”

Programs were also being offered by the school which had not been approved or registered with PCTIA, she said, “in particular those which were being called ‘workshops.’”

Dominelli College has been suspended by PCTIA before, in 2009 for “failure to maintain the requirements of registration.”

As reported in the NewsLeader, it has also been the subject of complaints by former students who say they didn’t get the programs they signed up for and that they ended up in courses without having taken the pre-requisites. One student moved to the Lower Mainland from the Northwest Territories to attend the school only to be told, she claimed, that the program she registered for didn’t exist. 

The school, under its current and previous names, including Dominelli European College, has been involved in more than three dozen civil lawsuits in B.C. since 1990.

The Dominelli school is rated an A-plus by the Better Business Bureau of Mainland B.C. (BBB).

It has, however, been the subject of three separate complaints in the past three years, its standard reporting period. In each case, the BBB determined the school had made a reasonable effort to resolve the complaint but that the complainant remained unsatisfied.

Last month, before the suspension, the school sent an email message to clients, graduates and business associates announcing that its facility at 6354 Beresford St. closed at the end of February. 

It is “being renovated and will be temporarily closed until the fall of 2011,” said the message from school owner Rita Dominelli. The school will “be having a sale of esthetics products, supplies and equipment, as the new facilities will have all new items.”

The school is transforming itself to “offer a strong online correspondence esthetics program and the exceptional quality of our products will still be available through an online retailer.”

PCTIA’s Kirkpatrick said until the school meets the conditions where they are non-compliant and the suspension is lifted, it will not be able to offer any online programs. It is also not allowed to advertise any of its programs, including on its website.

“When the suspension was imposed, the institution had 48 hours to remove all advertising,” Kirkpatrick said Tuesday. “We became aware today that the school has now put up additional programs on the [website] while still suspended. The Agency will be taking continued steps.”

If the school attempts to operate while under suspension, “the Agency will take action against them in accordance with the Act and our Bylaws. This can include an injunction.”

The phone line at Dominelli College would not allow messages to be left. Rita Dominelli did not reply to emailed requests for comment.



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