San Francisco Chronicle, May 15, 2012
by Demian Bulwa
A small vocational nursing program in Oakland that lost six students in a campus massacre last month is now facing a separate challenge, with state officials placing the program on a form of probation.
The Board of Vocational Nursing and Psychiatric Technicians voted Friday to shift its approval of the nursing program at Oikos University to provisional, citing low pass rates on exams, said Russ Heimerich, a spokesman for the state board.
To continue its nursing program, the school must raise its pass rates and fix other problems within the next two years, Heimerich said. The state could pull its approval sooner if the university does not show progress.
Schools are supposed to earn passing rates within 10 percentage points of the state average, which last year was 75 percent. Oikos' rate was 41 percent in 2011 and 58 percent in 2010, the first year of the nursing program, records show.
Ellen Cervellon, who has directed the nursing program since October, said Monday that it was improving and would regain full approval. She said three of four Oikos students who took exams in late 2011 passed.
"We're working on it," she said. "We're on our way up."
One Goh, a former nursing student, is accused of fatally shooting six students and a secretary on April 2. Cervellon said two more nursing students dropped out after the rampage, leaving 14 students in two classes that are being held at an alternate site in Fremont.