SANTA FE, New Mexico – A company that recruits immigrant teachers from the Philippines to work at public schools is being sued by New Mexico’s attorney general for allegedly charging exorbitant fees and using deceptive financial tactics.
Attorney General Hector Balderas filed the lawsuit Tuesday with a state district court in Albuquerque against Total Teaching Solutions International and CEO Janice Bickert of Ruidoso, alleging exorbitant fees to place Filipino teachers in schools on work visas, according to a report by the Associated Press.
Bickert and her company are accused of violations under the state unfair practices act.
The lawsuit seeks a permanent restraining order against the company, financial restitution to immigrant teachers, fines of $5,000 per violation and damages.
Balderas said that the lawsuit is needed to stop predatory business practices against immigrants during a teacher shortage. AP could not reach Bickert and company immediately for comment.
The company allegedly imposed fees of $15,000 on immigrant teachers for placement services. Other companies gave identical services for about $4,000.
“Once in the United States, teachers are forced to pay previously undisclosed additional fees, placement fees, or sign additional refinancing contracts,” the lawsuit states. “Teachers who are unable to pay the required installment of around $400 per month are subject to late fees.”
Filipino job applicants signed financing agreements allegedly without knowledge of their future salaries.
Total Teaching Solutions sued 8 teachers in 2019, alleging breach of contract, in cases set for trials before juries.
Janice Bickert’s husband, George Bickert, is the superintendent of Ruidoso’s public school district, and the suit states that the company may have relied on his position for an image of legitimacy.
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