BY LYNN EDMONDS
A tutoring center in Flushing that falsely claimed they could help children skip three grade levels will have to pay $60,000 to families whose children were enrolled in its classes, Assemblyman Ron Kim (D-Flushing) announced last Thursday.
Global Elites Network Xpeed Learning Academy, or “Xpeed,” located at 134-16 35 Ave., promised Chinese immigrant parents that their children would experience miracle results, such as improving their reading speed by five times, after completing an eight-week course at the center.
The center advertised partially by flaunting the alleged accomplishments of their top students, like eight-year-old Jessica, on their website as well as on Chinese-language radio shows. Owner Maverick Bian had his own radio show on 1380 AM and also bragged about his “protégée” students on 100.7 FM and 107.1 FM.
“Jessica’s academic achievements at eight years old have demonstrated to the whole world that any kid can acquire five to 10 majors before age 20 by adopting the leading-edge Xpeed Learning Methodology invented by Mr. Maverick, which can be called the Xpeed Learning Revolution/Storm,” the website reads.
Not only did the center fail to help most 10-year-olds in getting a high school degree, but instead of providing one-on-one and group lessons as promised, instructors at the center had children play on free learning apps downloaded to an Ipad. Tutors at the center were mostly college students with little to no training, Attorney General Eric Schneidermann’s office also found.
Despite these findings, many parents paid between $3,000 and $8,000 for children in grades K through 12 to attend one of the eight-week courses. Disgruntled parents who complained were refused a refund. The Flushing branch was one of six Xpeed centers, with the others being in Brooklyn, Fordham in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Livingston and Princeton in New Jersey.
Under the settlement, parents who filed complaints will receive a combined total of $60,000 in compensation. About 20 to 30 parents initially lodged a complaint with Kim’s office, and many of those filed a complaint with the attorney general. The company will also have to discontinue its deceptive advertising and change its refund policy, in accordance with the settlement.
To combat similar centers, Kim sponsored legislation that would call for better oversight of such businesses.
“It’s very probable that there are more of these predatory education centers,” a spokesperson from Kim’s office said.
Kim said he wanted the lawsuit to play a part in discouraging similarly shady business practices.
“I hope this settlement will send a loud and clear message to all businesses preying on susceptible communities: Don’t make promises you can’t keep!” Kim said.
“This company took advantage of parents’ natural desire to go the extra mile to help their children achieve academic success, and together we are sending a message that my office won’t tolerate these types of deceptive practices,” Schneidermann added.
“It has been a rough ride with all this mess,” former student at Xpeed, Stephanie Tan, said.
Kim warned parents not to fall for promises that were too good to be true. Though apparently, even genius Jessica wasn’t perfect.
“Jessica has also been trained to be social and nice to others. Jessica’s dancing skill has been improved,” the site concluded after detailing paragraphs of accomplishments. “However, Jessica’s singing skill needs to be improved later on.”
Reach Lynn Edmonds at (718) 357-7400 x127, firstname.lastname@example.org or @Ellinoamerikana