California Threatens to Shut Down Coding Schools

California regulators have recently served coding boot camps with a cease and desist letter, ordering them to either shut down or pay a $50,000 fine, which would also include refunds to past students. According to the California Bureau for Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE), under the law these coding boot camps aren’t technically private schools. Since 2009, California law has required private institutions to applying for such a status to meet a series of minimum standards and requirements to protect students from being defrauded.

So far the BPPE has sent cease and desist letters to six programming boot camps, including Dev Academy, Hackbright Academy, App Academy, Zipfian Academy, and Hack Reactor. The coding Dojo, Coding House, and General assemble may also be targets as well. But these schools may not be facing imminent shutdown. A co-found of App Academy has stated that the institution was already in compliance with most of the BPPE’s requirements, and is currently working on a formal application to become officially licensed by the state.

A BPPE spokesman has stated that the harsh language found in the cease and desist letters was intended to frighten the un-licensed schools into complying with the law.

“As long as they are making a good effort to come into compliance with the law, they fall down low on our triage of problem children. We will work with them to get them licensed and focus on more urgent matters.”

However, some of these requirements may be difficult to satisfy. For example, the BPPE requires a bachelor’s degree with three years of teaching experience for instructors, which some of the instructors still lack.

There is also a question to whether some of these coding schools’ claims can hold up to scrutiny from the government. App Academy, for example, promises to turn students with no programming experience into iOS application developers within nine weeks. They also promise that ninety-five percent of their graduates are offered jobs with salaries averaging about $91,000 a year. These graduation numbers tend to be inflated when students either quit in frustration or are asked to leave the program for various reasons.

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