ENCINO — Dorit Ulrich, one of the major shareholders of the Los Angeles Culinary Institute, faced a mob of angry students Tuesday and told them she did not know that the school was in bad financial shape when she and a friend invested nearly half a million dollars early this year.
"I had no idea," said Ulrich, in a voice barely above a whisper. "I tried to keep the school open."
Nearly all 60 of the institute's students who attended the session didn't seem to care about her explanations or motives for suddenly closing the Encino school May 19. They simply wanted to know how to get refunds of their $20,000 tuition and transfer their credits to other schools.
The institute is owned by a Nevada corporation and managed by six shareholders--Ron Costa, Marlies Costa, Carla Skornik, Bruce Riddell, Uwe Dethlefsen and Ulrich, said Ulrich's attorney, Sherman Lister. Ulrich and Dethlefsen, who is also represented by Lister, together own about 50% of the institute.
On Tuesday, Ulrich, 64, of Simi Valley, told the students she invested her savings in the cooking school.
Lister said the school now has no money in its bank account and is considering filing for bankruptcy protection.
Deborah Godfrey, an analyst with the state's Bureau for Private Post-Secondary and Vocational Education, which licenses private schools, advised students to apply for a state tuition refund and start looking for other culinary schools.