Special Reports

Students’ fate unclear if driving schools close

How will the state’s action against driving-school king Gary Probst affect parents and students who attend his schools? Here are a few questions and answers:

Which schools are affected?

The state is targeting 41 schools owned by Probst across the state, as well as Probst’s teaching license. His franchises have three names: Diamond Driving School, America’s Best Driving School and Quality Driving School. Eight more schools with those names are not on the state’s list because Probst is not the registered owner or co-owner. To see the entire list, with school names and addresses, go to schools.pdf.

My child recently graduated from one of Probst’s schools. Is the school certificate still valid?

Yes.

Is the state closing the 41 schools immediately?

No. By filing charges against Probst, the state starts a process that could lead to school shutdowns. Probst has 20 days to appeal the charges. If he doesn’t, the schools could close before the end of the month. If he does appeal, the Department of Licensing will schedule a hearing before the state Driver Training Schools Advisory Committee and allow him to argue his case. The committee will make a decision after that. The length of that process is undetermined, but while it continues, Probst’s schools can stay open.

What happens if the schools close and students haven’t finished their classes? Will parents get refunds?

The state doesn’t know. In the past, school owners facing licenses suspensions have agreed to finish coursework for the remaining students. Whether Probst would agree to such an arrangement is unknown. The same goes for refunds.

What did Probst do wrong?

The state is charging him with providing false information on several license applications. The applications asked whether he or anyone associated with his business had ever been convicted of a crime of moral turpitude. Probst said no – but in 1990, while serving as a military chaplain at Fort Lewis, he was convicted of violating 10 counts of the military code of justice. He wore medals that he never earned and falsely claimed a record of bravery in combat. He pleaded guilty to the charges and was dishonorably discharged from the Army.

Sean Robinson, The News Tribune

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