Florida pauses enrollment at 7 nursing schools amid degree scheme 

Florida's Commission for Independent Education has ordered seven nursing schools allegedly tied to the fraudulent degree scandal to pause graduation and enrollment activities through March, the state confirmed to Becker's Feb. 15.

The commission held an emergency meeting Feb. 10 to consider action against the institutions, all of which are presently or have been connected to at least one individual charged for their alleged participation in the sale of phony nursing degrees and transcripts. 

The seven nursing schools were ordered to cease graduation and enrollment through at least March 31. Of these seven, four have voluntarily ceased all operations for an indefinite period to conduct an internal audit. Each institution must also provide lists and contact information for all current students, graduates and faculty, along with "any and all NCLEX numbers the institution uses or has used in the past," a spokesperson for the Florida Department of Education told Becker's

The scheme involved selling more than 7,600 fraudulent diplomas and transcripts to aspiring nurses. The documents allowed individuals to qualify for the National Council Licensure Examination without completing the required coursework. About 37 percent of those who bought fake documents passed the test, and many went on to gain licensure and secure employment at U.S. healthcare facilities.

In total, 25 people face federal charges of wire fraud and wire fraud conspiracy. Defendants include administrators from Florida nursing schools, along with employees at several nursing test prep academies in other states that allegedly recruited candidates to buy the fake diplomas.

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