MIAMI LAKES, Fla. (WSVN) - The president and founder of Dade Medical College and the University of Southernmost Florida announced Friday that all campuses and the corporate offices have closed for good, leaving students, faculty and staff demanding answers.
Ernesto Perez sent a letter to students and staff announcing the immediate closure of the schools. He did not give a reason why.
When 7News arrived at the Miami Lakes campus, Friday afternoon, approximately 30 students were standing outside, some for class and others to inquire about the e-mail they received announcing the campuses' closure. Some of them chanted, "We want our degree" over and over.
"I actually showed up today because I had lab today from 1 to 10 [p.m.], " said student Irene Pantoja. "As soon as we walked in, the professor said that she was not going to give us class 'cause she hasn't been paid for the last three weeks, and then she sent us on lunch break."
An hour or so later, the doors at six campuses were locked for good. "On our lunch break, we received an e-mail stating that the school was closed, " said Pantoja.
In his letter, Perez stated that all six campuses, from South Florida to Jacksonville, would close Friday afternoon. It read in part, "Today it is with great sadness that I must announce that Dade Medical College and the University of Southernmost Florida will be closing, effective October 30, 2015, across all of our campuses and our corporate offices."
"I used to work here, until today at 2 p.m., " said Ramon Gonzalez, a professor of anatomy and physiology.
More than 500 professors and staff have been left unpaid for weeks of work. "The last paycheck was completely unfunded in the bank ... it was fake, " said Gonzalez.
Employees were instructed to file for unemployment immediately.
One student said she received an e-mail from her professor stating she also recently found out about the closing. In the e-mail, she asked students to refrain from contacting her, referring them to the corporate office instead.
Approximately 2, 000 students attended the two-year college, and more than 500 employees worked there. Some have worked at this college since it opened its doors in 1999.
Even though professors' last paychecks didn't clear, tuition payments to the college were still cashing out from student's bank accounts on Friday night. "For me to get that diploma in my hands from the school, I had to be in zero debt, zero balance from the school, which right now, I'm [at] zero balance, " said student Elizabeth Gonzalez.