FF12 gets student refund after WATC accident shuts down program

WICHITA, Kan. (KWCH) Hunter McQueen moved to Wichita with the perfect plan for his future.

"I moved over here in August just to take Auto Collision because my buddy in Kansas City was saying if I took this course that he could have a job lined up for me right out off the bat at 18-20 dollars an hour," McQueen said.

The program, McQueen said, was one year long which was the right timing for the job. He signed a one year lease at an apartment complex in Wichita, paid for the courses, tools and shirts and was good to go.

That is, until one day in class.

"The teacher hooked everything on the car up and everybody was just observing from a safe standpoint," McQueen said. "Then he ended up kind of moving people in the line of fire and the hook from the machine fell off of the car and ended up hitting some kid in the chest and he went to ICU."

It was that classroom accident that WATC said led to the firing of the teacher. Though a few substitutes took over for a time, WATC said it couldn't fill the position and decided to dissolve the program.

Though the accident threw off McQueen's timeline for his job, he then ran into another issue - getting a refund.

His course documents show he paid nearly $4,000 for the courses getting some of that money from a Pell Grant, some from student loans and the rest out of pocket. When the course closed, McQueen said he got one check for $363 and that was all.

His mom, Winnie, said she called WATC saying her son needed his full refund because it wasn't his fault the course closed. The school sent another check for $396 but Winnie said that's where it stopped.

"I kept calling back. I said that's not the full refund of $3,800 that Hunter has paid for the full semester. We need, you know, we'd like that back so he can move on and do something else," Winnie McQueen said. "And they said that was going to be all that they were going to refund."

Meanwhile, McQueen was getting letters from WATC's financial aid office telling him he needed to pay back the nearly $4,000 he borrowed because he didn't finish the courses. That left McQueen with just shy of $800 in refunds but nearly $4,000 in bills.

That's what made him come to FactFinder 12.

"I'd like a refund back," McQueen said. "A full refund," his mom added, "of everything he spent."

FactFinder 12 got him just that.

We called WATC President Sheree Utash who said she wasn't fully aware of the situation. After she did some research into what happened, she said the right thing to do was to refund Hunter his money.

Winnie McQueen said now, Hunter has the money he needs to pay back his loans and can move on with his intended career.

If you have a situation that needs investigated or a problem that you've had a hard time solving, contact FactFinder 12 at 316-831-6166 or investigators@kwch.com.