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Unsuspecting students to find closed school

Updated 11:36 pm, Tuesday, January 1, 2013
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BRIDGEPORT -- Dozens of unsuspecting students are expected to arrive at the Butler Business School campus Wednesday morning, only to learn the school is closed and their money may be gone.

"We have a lot of students who come from as far away as Port Chester (N.Y.)," said Sue Waters, an instructor in the medical assistant program. "Many of them may not be aware the school closed."

The 112-year-old school on North Avenue and its two sister operations, the Sawyer Schools in Hamden and Hartford, abruptly shut down Saturday with no notice beyond a handwritten letter on the door.

The closures left about 1,200 students without a school. Many students are also thousands of dollars in debt after taking out student loans.

"We had no idea they were closing," Waters said. "The teachers had absolutely no idea this was happening."

Nor did staff members such as Juanita Lopez.

"I know the students are upset about the closing and want answers," Lopez said in an email to the Connecticut Post, "but so do I."

She said teachers and staff members were going to go to the school Wednesday morning and speak with any students who showed up for classes.

"We were not going to let them find out with just a note on the door with a number to call," Lopez wrote. "I feel that that was cold and heartless and really ridiculous."

However, Lopez expects some students to get upset once they learn what happened.

"We don't want to see a riot happen," she wrote. "I ask that anyone who shows up please be careful and stay calm, they will get answers soon enough."

Waters said she intends to be there for her students.

Michelle Brown, a full-time student expecting to finish her 180-hour externship and receive her medical assistant diploma in April, plans to be there, too.

"My main concern is what happens now? How do I get certified?" she said.

But few expect Paul or Michael Kelly, the owners doing business as Academic Enterprises in Rhode Island, to be in Bridgeport on Wednesday morning to provide answers.

Calls to Paul Kelly's Massachusetts home telephone number are no longer recorded on his voicemail. It is full and is not accepting any new messages.

mmayko@ctpost.com; 203-330-6286; http://twitter.com/mmayko2011