Denver Modeling School Shuts Doors

State Helps Parents Get Money Back

Students of the John Robert Powers Acting and Modeling School arrived to find the door locked and a closure notice taped to the outside of the door over the weekend.

The sudden shutdown came as a surprise to parents like Janell Means, whose five-year-old daughter Bailee attends classes.

“(I was) shocked,” Means told 7NEWS Monday. “I had no idea this was going to happen,” Means said.

Fellow parent Marina Rooney said she’s upset for her 7-year-old son and the emotional and financial investment that’s been made.

“I’m devastated because of the money: the money I’ve invested and the money I’ve borrowed to pay for some of this stuff,” Rooney said. Means agreed.

“We bought the big package for $6,000,” she said, explaining she purchased the year-long package in October and is owed around $3,000 for classes her daughter has not yet attended.

The notice at the John Robert Powers office, which is near Alameda Avenue and Colorado Boulevard, referred questions to the Colorado Department of Higher Education, Division of Private Occupational Schools.

“The school has been working with the division to ensure the parents and students are properly refunded,” said Jim Parker, the department’s director.

Parker explained the regulatory office was notified on April 22 of the owner’s plans to shut down the school. The owner, identified by 7NEWS as Susan Sisitki, then provided a list of 20 active students to Parker.

“Private occupational schools are required to have what’s called a surety bond.” Parker said, and explained the $95,000 bond held by Sisitki acts as protection for consumers if contracts can’t be honored and covers prepaid tuition.

While he said he understood the concern and frustration among some clients, he had no concerns over how the matter has been handled with the state. He estimated it might be four to six weeks before students are refunded for unused tuition hours.

“The (claim) process is relatively simple, it’s just going to take some time when you’re working with an insurance company,” Parker said.

He added the economy and declining enrollment were two reasons given as to why the business folded.

Sisitki told 7NEWS the 20-year-old company was hit with some bad financial times.

“It’s been very difficult,” she said by phone.

Sisitki said collections became difficult with some parents struggling to pay for classes because of their own economic woes. “We hope to reopen,” she said but did not give a time frame.

Sisitki said four part-time staff and two others have been laid off due to the closure.

“We did have a lot of success stories,” Sisitki said and urged her students to, “continue what you’re doing; don’t stop.”

Parent Christy Good-Cardenas said many parents aren’t sure where to turn next.

“We’re disappointed because we’ve invested in our kids,” she said.

Janell Means added she recently purchased marketing cards, called zed cards, with her daughter’s picture and the John Robert Powers logo on them.

“This is a waste of money, it’s got their name on it, it’s not worth anything,” she said.

John Robert Powers of Denver is the second school under the name to close in Colorado, and the third occupational school to close in the last six months. Parker said the other businesses were a broadcast college and cosmetology school.

John Robert Powers schools are franchised and independently owned. A request for comment from the franchising headquarters in Los Angeles Monday was not answered.

The Better Business Bureau rated the Denver John Robert Powers school with a “B+.”

Inquiries about John Robert Powers School in Denver can by going to the Web or calling 303-866-2723.