Bay State College faces eviction over $720,000 unpaid rent claim
An embattled for-profit college in Boston is now fighting eviction.
As of Feb. 1, court documents show that Bay State College owed an alleged $725,122.96 in unpaid rent and fees to its landlord, OMV Park Square, for its use of the second floor of a Back Bay high-rise. The college has disputed the amount and said it's working toward a settlement.
If the sides can't reach an agreement, the matter will go to trial on April 12.
It’s the latest development in weeks of unraveling at the state’s only for-profit four-year college, which was stripped of its accreditation in January. College administrators are preparing an appeal, to be heard by accreditors this Friday.
A lease ledger filed with the court shows that the college’s last payments to OMV Park Square came nearly five months ago.
In a letter sent Feb. 1, Shannon Slaughter, an attorney for the landlord, noted the college had failed to pay $572,888.64 in back rent after a warning in January. As a result, she wrote, “the Lease is hereby terminated … and you must quit and deliver up the Premises to Landlord immediately.”
Eight days later, Jeff Mason, the college’s interim president, was served with an official warning of the pending move for eviction.
In a response filed on behalf of the college, attorney Hannah Amadei disputed the amount owed. She included a November letter from a property manager at OMV Park Square, agreeing to reduce the college’s monthly rent from $131,320 to $49,653, in exchange for the college vacating half of the occupied floor.
The submitted ledger shows that OMV Park Square continued to bill the college each month at the higher rate until at least Feb. 1. Amadei argued that the landlords failed to fulfill their side of the agreement and are therefore unjustified in demanding the full reported sum.
Both Slaughter and Bay State College staff declined to comment for this story.
The eviction threat comes weeks after the college told students that its accreditation would be withdrawn, pending an appeal.
On Jan. 16, the New England Commission of Higher Education announced it would withdraw Bay State’s accreditation at the end of this school year.
In a public statement, NECHE President Lawrence Schall attributed the decision to the college’s failure to demonstrate “sufficient … resources and capacity to support its mission” and its history of “overly optimistic projections” of enrollment growth, among other things.
Bay State’s appeal will be heard by a NECHE panel on March 10. If the panel declines, the college will lose its accreditation effective Aug. 31.
Students not set to graduate by then are now grappling with how and whether to continue their education. Many expressed frustration with the lack of transparency on the part of both the college and its accreditor.
Lindsey Sheehan, a second-semester student in nursing on Bay State's small Taunton campus, described the start of 2023 as “brutal, to say the least.”
Sheehan and other classmates say they were led to believe the college had several years to satisfy NECHE’s concerns about the school’s financial standing.
At the time of enrolling, Sheehan said, “a lot of us weren’t aware of the situation the school was in.” Statements from school leaders, she said, “gave us more hope than we should have had.”
Officials at the Mass. Department of Higher Education say they’re aware of the “commercial dispute” facing the college. They also shared a website providing information for students at the college.