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Instructors fired, classes canceled, students kicked off campus at Anamarc College

By: Genevieve Curtis
EL PASO, Texas -- Classes were canceled and students were told to leave campus at Anamarc College Tuesday afternoon. Instructors told KFOX14 they were let go and showed KFOX14 letters of termination.

It's a story KFOX14 broke Monday. The college is facing serious financial problems and allegedly is filing for bankruptcy.

Students showed up for class Tuesday only to learn there would be no classes, and they said no one is providing any information as to why.
"It's absurd and it's hurtful in ways I can't even explain to you," said nursing student Anastasia Rivers.

At the college's central campus off of Dyer Street, students cried and hugged each other.

They told KFOX14 they've all paid around $30,000 to get their nursing degrees; now they're wondering where their money went.

"Where is my money? Where is my money going?" asked Rivers.

In a statement Monday, the owner of the school, Ana Maria Houde, told KFOX14 the school is facing "temporary cash flow issues." Anamarc College is a two year school that offers associates degrees and specializes in vocational nursing certificates, as well as a registered nurse bachelor program.

Students said they've been told by the Houde's that the college is filing for bankruptcy.

"I'm sure they were aware what was going on with the bankruptcy because things like this don't just happen," said Rivers.

Tuesday, Houde met with students and instructors. Students shared video of that meeting with KFOX14. In the video Houde can be heard telling students she is working with the Texas Workforce Commission and the Department of Education for a plan moving forward. 

She explains they are working on a "transition" process for students at all three campuses. 

"Do I have specific information at the time? I don't. Everything developed since yesterday," Houde told students. 

As KFOX14 reported, employees said they haven't been paid for several weeks of work.

Employees told KFOX14 their checks went in Friday but bounced Monday morning. In a recording Houde can be heard telling employees they will resolve those issues "individually."

Instructors were all given termination notices on Tuesday. The letters read: "Your employment with Anamarc College is no longer available and therefore is considered a permanent layoff."

Other students said after seeing KFOX14's story Monday, they tried to go get their transcripts on Tuesday, but employees wouldn't give students their transcripts.

Students said on Tuesday morning they saw several of their instructors packing up boxes and loading up their cars.

It's all very concerning for the students, who have studied and sacrificed to earn their degrees.

"Do we even have a school to come back to?" asked Rivers.

One student said she just graduated but still needs Anamarc's approval before she can take her state exams.

"I've done everything I've had to do, and now I don't even know if I'm going to be a nurse or if I'm going to have to transfer somewhere else and do the whole program over again. All that time, all that effort, all that money -- it's going down the drain," she said.

Students said they were told classes may resume on July 14 but there are no guarantees.

"These people stole thousands of students' money and they just brush it off," said student Jennette Macias.

Macias is in the vocational nurse program. She said she's called every other educational instutuion in El Paso and no one will accept her credits. Other students told KFOX14 they've gotten the same response: if they go somewhere else, they will have to start from the beginning.

"Just to have it taken out from underneath us," said Macias.

KFOX14 again reached out to Dr. Ana Houde and Marc Houde but have not received a response other than their statement on Monday.
Tuesday night about a dozen students and instructors turned out at Congressman Beto O'Rourke's town hall to figure out what they can do next.

Students said a majority of them receive financial aid or grants to attend school.

Students also said a year and a half ago there were allegations that employees were embezzling from the school. Students told KFOX14 they were told a class would cost $6,000, and then employees would tell students, "If you pay in cash today, it will only be $3,000." 

Court documents show a case between Enrique Diaz and his wife Elsa Lorena Pina. Pina is the sister of owner Ana Maria Pina-Houde.

Reports to KFOX14 indicate the amount allegedly embezzled at that time would not have been significant enough to result in the college's current financial state.