Mercy College is suing a former dean and Long Island University for $700,000 for allegedly poaching prospective business school students.
The Dobbs Ferry college claims that Edward Weis forwarded confidential student information to himself in the weeks before he resigned his position to work for LIU.
Then, nine students who had already registered at Mercy switched to LIU. Each student, according to the complaint filed in Westchester Supreme Court, is worth $32,252 a year in tuition, registration fees, board and meal plan, not including scholarships.
“While this case lacks merit,” said Jon Schneider, LIU’s director of public relations, “we will address the facts through the courts, not in the media.”
Weis did not respond to an email request for comment.
Mercy compiles lists of high school students with high grade point averages and high SAT scores to recruit to the business school.
Many are invited to attend the summer Leadership Academy and then offered admission to the Business Honors Program. Others are encouraged to apply for admission to the business school.
Weis, of Chappaqua, was privy to confidential information about registered and prospective students as dean of the School of Business since 2012. That role ended on May 31, and his new position, as vice president for academic affairs at LIU, began the following day.
He oversees LIU’s business school programs, and among his duties, according to a LIU press release, is enhancing recruitment.
Mercy claims it quickly discovered that Weis was recruiting its prospective students, directly or indirectly.
In the weeks before Weis left, the complaint stated, he forwarded confidential student information to his personal email account or accessed the information from his home computer.
The information included spreadsheets with names of students to whom Mercy intends to offer scholarships for the 2019-2020 academic year, students who attended the Leadership Academy and current freshmen, as well as budgets.
On June 15, a Mercy honors program employee, Chuck Garcia, resigned to work for LIU. On June 26, he allegedly offered two students who had registered at Mercy more scholarship money than Mercy had offered.
Garcia, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, could only have gotten that information from Weis, according to the complaint.
As of Mercy’s May 1 deadline, 42 high school students had been accepted and registered in the Business Honors Program for this academic year.
Timothy L. Hall, Mercy’s president, warned Weis in a July 11 email, “I plan to investigate whether your attempts to tempt students to follow you violates federal law.”
By July 20, the complaint stated, nine of the 42 registered students had notified Mercy that they would attend LIU instead. All nine had attended last summer’s Leadership Academy and were named in confidential spreadsheets.
A cease and desist letter was sent, demanding the return of all confidential information. Mercy said it was considering notifying the U.S. Department of Education and other regulatory agencies for misappropriating confidential student information. The letter was forwarded to the executive assistant of LIU’s president, Kimberly R. Cline, who served as president of Mercy College from 2008 to 2013.
Weis, according to the complaint, did not return any of the information that Mercy claims he diverted.
The college is accusing him of breach of duty of loyalty and misappropriation of confidential information. It is accusing Weis and LIU of tortious interference and unfair competition.
Mercy is asking the court to order Weis to stop soliciting prospective Mercy students who are named in its spreadsheets.
Mercy is represented by Mary A. Smith and John D. Bryan of Jackson Lewis PC in White Plains.