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KDKA Investigation: Retraining Program For Miners Sued

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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) - The intent is a good one, retraining former miners and other under-employed others at computer coding boot camps.

Jonathan Graham and Amanda Laucher, founders of an organization called Mined Minds, promised graduates a new life.

KDKA's Jon Delano: "Do most of your graduates find a job?"

Laucher: "Every single one of them, yes."

Delano: "Every single one of your graduates?"

Laucher: "They all find a job."

But, KDKA's investigation found they appear to have overpromised and under-delivered. In the past two years, few of their graduates have found tech jobs.

Now, a class action lawsuit filed in West Virginia agrees.

"What I read in your article was mirrored down here to a large degree," attorney Adam Taylor said.

Taylor says trainees who enrolled at Mined Minds in search of a new career, but found it a waste of time.

"Once they got in, it was just a nightmare. The program was ran haphazardly. There was barely a syllabus, and what was there wasn't really adhered to," Taylor said.

KDKA found about a dozen former trainees in Pennsylvania who said were promised paid apprenticeships that never materialized or were cut short after just days.

"All they said was, it was circumstances beyond our control, and there's nothing we could do to avoid it. Anytime I would ask for more information they wouldn't give any," said Max Pokropowicz, a former trainee.

Until recently, Mined Minds held training boot camps in Waynesburg, Greene County.

KDKA's Andy Sheehan went there after Laucher and Graham canceled an interview, but he did speak with Josh McNett, one of only two miners in Pennsylvania to complete the training and now working in computer technology.

The other one is Laucher's brother, Marvin, and both now work for Mined Minds.

"The problem is miners don't want to come to the class because they think the coal mines are coming back. They don't want re-training," McNett said.

In subsequent phone conversations, Laucher maintained that the program is keeping its promises to those who have the wherewithal to finish the training and pursue a job. She did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

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