ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- For nearly 50 years students at Brown College of Court Reporting in Atlanta have learned to be some of the quickest and most accurate court reporters in the country, logging live legal proceedings and even closed captioning for television.
This week as new students prepared to start their classes, they learned the school was cancelling courses for incoming students.
“The director put out an email on Friday that the school would not be accepting any new students and that more information would be forthcoming,” said student Phyillis Watson.
She is set to graduate soon with stenography and voice writing skills certifications.
“I should be coming out soon,” Watson said. “I probably have about three quarters left."
She’s says she learned the news from friends who had just applied for classes this fall that the school would actually be closing soon.
“Friends started calling current students saying what did you refer me to this school for when they’re going to close,” Phyllis recalled.
School leaders tell CBS46 they just found out within the last week from their owners in Chicago.
“It literally was short notice,” said Carlette Jennings, the director of admissions at Brown College. “When I learned was literally when our ownership told us about it so they’re not wrong. It was short notice and it’s disappointing. It’s disappointing to all of us.”
They blame the move on low-enrollment, a growing problem with court reporting schools across the country. Brown currently has about 160 students and it's the only accredited court reporting school in the state.
“I think people have mistakenly decided for themselves that this is no longer a viable career, but you still need someone in charge of the record,” Jennings said. “ We cannot give that over to cameras and microphones. The legal record, the judicial record is too important. You need some human being who is taking care of the equipment, who is proof-reading the record who is making sure everything is correct, verbatim,” she went on.
The National Court Reporter's Association tells CBS46 that just five years ago there were 60 approved schools in the United States and Canada. With Brown College's closing, there will be only 24.
Current students tell us they are concerned, but the school says their classes will continue as planned this year.
New students are getting assistance with other schools in other states. School officials say any admission related fees are being refunded. The next closest NCRA-approved schools are in Florida and Alabama.
“We have already started to contact other schools with comparable programs and comparable costs that are really wanting to work with our applicants,” Jennings said.