• Report: #1101215
Complaint Review:

Kaplan University

  • Submitted: Thu, November 21, 2013
  • Updated: Thu, November 21, 2013

  • Reported By: Shane — Long lake New York
Kaplan University
550 West Van Buren Street, 7th Floor Chicago, Illinois USA

Kaplan University Kaplan Inc. Kaplan Univeristy Has stolen my intellectual work and refused to give credit Chicago Illinois

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Kaplan University School of Information under the guidance of its Dean, Dr. David Dehaven and his foot soldiers Dr. Rhonda Chicone and Dr. Lynn Williams, are using their students work from their Graduate program as well as their Masters of IT Capstone projects, in order to further market the University and it's School of Information Technology and as advance faculty careers (particularly those of Dr. David DeHaven, Rhonda Chicone, and Dr. Lynn Williams.

I started as a Graduate student at Kaplan University in March 2012 under the Post 9-11 GI BILL. I am a 4.0 GPA student as well as a member of the Graduate Information Technology Association (GITA). At the time of this petition being published, I had one remaining elective left - with an anticipated December 3, 2013 completion date.


In early 2013 I was recruited through a request from Dr. Rhonda Chicone to Dr. Desiree DePriest (GITA) to provide some names of some highly technical students with possible web development experience. Dr. Desiree DePriest recommended me. Dr. Rhonda Chicone had convinced me that I should join their project and I could use it as fulfillment for my Capstone requirements. The University in partnership with Random Hacks of Kindness (RHoK) wanted to create a website that provided a virtual IT consultant (I coined that term) to assist small businesses around the world with their IT needs. Particularly small businesses that could not afford to hire a full time technical employee or pay for consulting services.

When I started on the project, I was brought on as a Student Project Manager working alongside the Faculty Student Advisor / Project Manager, Dr. Rhonda Chicone. At this point we had no other team members or faulty student advisors except for Dr. Lynn Williams who was part of the initial marriage between Kaplan University and RHoK.  As the project moved along fast towards its initial go-live date, and the project started to experience issues with student recruitment. During this time, I coined the term "Virtual IT Consultant", created the first expert system (decision tree) based off from the concept of Problems\Questions\Answers\Solutions with a way of querying the system using the concepts of keywords. I also created the very first data model and php algorithm which proved that the concept would work for Kaplan and RHoK's requirements. I implemented all of this on my own hosted website on GoDaddy.com


At one point, the project had finally recruited enough students where I could then return to just Project Management duties. In one email between Dr. Rhonda Chicone and the now Student project manager (Bachelor of Science in Information Technology) , John Brintnell, the Professor had said some things to John Brintnell that I did not like, and that I found to be very unprofessional by a Professor leading students. I therefor resigned from the Project.

The University then acquired the domain name "MYITConsultant.org and created the following website.


and marketing video


Please also take a look at the nice resources page it created for all of the students who are currently working n the project or have worked on it in the past.

Of course, I got concerned when I didn't see my name, photo, or anything about my contributions to the project listed on the website. I contact Dr. Rhonda Chicone and this was here statement in an email back to me:

"I'm sorry you resigned but it wouldn't be fair to the other team members who did not resign. It is similar to the real-world when someone leaves a company. I hope you can understand."

and my response to her:

"Wow! Are you serious? I am sorry you feel this way, and I disagree. I didn't want to bring this up , but it was you and John conversing behind my back that led to my resignation and you know that very well. And, here he is now, your new PM. So No, I don't understand!  It's a shame you are gonna require me to fight this. I am not sure why you would even consider this path, since you know very well the time I put into the project as well as the intellectual assets I have provided. You also know that the site obviously displays all my work as well. I will be contacting both the Dean of IT as well as RHOK. - Shane H****"

and now the response from Kaplan University's Dean of the School of Information Technology, Dr. David DeHaven:

"Mr. H**** – Thank you for your e-mail and also for your involvement in extra-curricular activities such as RHoK and student organizations such as GITA.  In speaking with Dr. Chicone, I understand that in the initial part of the RHoK project you did quite a lot – it is unfortunately that your time constraints led you to leave that effort.    I had the opportunity to see the product (MyITConsultant.org) last night during the student presentation and noted that you were acknowledged along with other past participants.  In fact, my understanding is that a list of former contributors is being added to the web site – you should receive information about this along with the required release form in the next few days.  All of this recognition and work is entirely at the direction and discretion of Dr. Chicone. With respect to the work that you are doing for GITA – I am not aware specifically of the effort, but assume that if you remain with the project to completion, (and your work is indeed used in any final product), that you will receive the appropriate credit. Thank you again for being actively involved in these extra-curricular activities and I look forward to seeing the final products. Sincerely, Dean DeHaven, Dean, School of Information Technology.

A Release form!    "All of this recognition and work is entirely at the direction and discretion of Dr. Chicone."

My Response to Dr. DeHaven:

Dr. DeHaven,

"Thank you for taking the time to review.  It is because of Dr. Chicone that I resigned in the fashion that I did. It is her direction and discretion that I am concerned about. Those statements that she has made make me concerned. Those students who are actively contributing to the project will be moving on as well (someday soon). Surely, their names are not going to be removed. However, I will take this email as notice that the University attends to give me credit where do, and I look forward to the info and release form - Shane H****"

Two days later, I then receive this email from Dr. Chicone with the following form:https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/73677254/Kaplan/Kaplan_Release_General.pdf

"Hi Folks, I hope everyone is doing well. There is an area on the MITC microsite that recognizes the active volunteer student project team. However, I also want to recognize former volunteer student team members that were active and provided time and effort to the project. I appreciated all that you did! But, before I can add your names to the site, all students (active and former) must sign a release form. Attached is the release form. If you can, please return it to me by Saturday night or sooner. “Thanks in advance! Dr. Chicone

A release form which only came to light based on my concern and request.

My next response to Dr. Chicone:

"Dr, Chicone, I would like to hold off on signing any release form until I know exactly what will be displayed and how, in comparison to the current teams bios and efforts. I know Dr. DeHaven said it was your discretion, so I would like to know how you intend on recognizing me first.- Thank You, Shane H****"

Dr. Chicone's Response:

"Hi Shane, I hope you are well. The idea is for v1.0 active volunteer students to be highlighted as they are now. For former students who participated on v1.0, a visitor to the site will see a Former Volunteer Student Team title or link on the page. The student volunteer name will be listed along with whether they are a graduate or undergraduate student along with the specific degree that they are working towards (or have already received if an alumni) and the version of MITC they worked on. So for example, when we complete version 2.0, then the former students that worked on v1.0 will go to that area on the site and the active students that worked on v2.0 will be highlighted as they are now for v1.0. This will keep happening as subsequent versions are released. So essentially there will be an updated list of all student volunteers that contributed to the MITC product. I hope this helps. Dr. R."

My next response to Dr. Chicone:

"Dr. Chicone, Sorry, but with all due respect, I don't feel that is recognizable enough. You are putting my contribution into the same category as say someone who might have contributed an hour a week doing testing. I would think that you would hold my contribution with a little more weight than that. It seems that I am not going to get the recognition I deserve and therefore will seek another avenue of obtaining it. Sincerely, Shane H****"

A new email sent by me to the Dean:

Dr. DeHaven, I apologize, however, I have no interest in signing any release form. I believe this should have been asked of me prior to coming on board.  As for the credit I feel I deserve, I feel that my picture, name, credentials along with the role and skills I provided on the project should be displayed like any of the other students who have contributed. I also feel that this information should be displayed for the life of the site as long as it continues to use the same core functionality it was designed for. I feel I deserve recognition for the following contributions: Former Project Manager, Early project conception, design, and development of core architecture and database. I hope you and Dr. Chicone will consider this, because I feel it was well earned regardless of how Dr, Chicone feels about me now. Thank you for your time Shane H****

The Dean's response:

"Mr. H**** – Thank you for your follow-up e-mail and again for your involvement in extra-curricular activities offered here at Kaplan University.  A signed release form is required for anyone listed on the site.  For any listing that you might receive, this action will be a first step.  Please note that this is a marketing department requirement\policy and is being applied to everyone listed on the website. With that said, I truly appreciate the work that you contributed to the project in the early phases.   After a thorough review of the situation, I believe that providing a listing as highlighted in my original note, (along with subsequent explain from Dr. Chicone is her recent e-mail), is more than appropriate.  I hope that you take advantage of this opportunity to be recognized in this manner.  Sincerely – Dean DeHaven Dean School of Information Technology"

My next response to Dr. DeHaven:

"Hi Dr. DeHaven, after reading Dr. Chicone's latest email. I do not feel the contribution is enough. I am not interested in being shoved into a back corner with just my name, program, and version I was involved with. That is putting me in the same category as those who contributed much less time and skill set (e.g., someone who may have contributed an hour or less a week on testing or writing up problems). Dr. Chicone knows what I have contributed. Therefore, I will not be signing the release form, and will instead wait to see what she posts as my contribution. I appreciate your responses and your willingness to get involved. I am sure it was your involvement that has pushed Dr, Chicone to change her mind from her original response to me. Having said that, I don't wish to continue on with this issue any further since I have a lot more important and demanding things which need my attention. I will wait to see what Dr. Chicone has for plans of recognizing me and I will proceed from there. At this time, I am not willing to sign a release form to just have my name, program, and version number displayed, if that is the case, I will seek recognition elsewhere. Thank You. Shane H****"

After this last email i sent to Dr. DeHaven, All communication from the University stopped. I therefore contacted Random Hacks of Kindness which has their logo and a link to their website. In addition, they are mentioned in the marketing video -http://www.myitconsultant.org/videoplayer.html?vid=MITC_Documentary

My first email correspondence to RHOK:

"Hello, My name is Shane H**** and I would like to direct your attention to the following website. http://www.myitconsultant.org/

I was the lead designer and developer on this site. I came up with the original concept for the expert system used, as well as the original algorithm. I also designed very first data model. All of which are still currently being used. I have asked Kaplan to cease and desist using my work for failure to provide appropriate credit for my work. They have asked me

to sign a letter so they can just put my name and school class on the resources page (No picture and no information about my contribution). Dean of IT, Dr. David DeHaven and Dr. Rhonda Chicone are stealing my work without giving proper credit where do! The University has turned a blind eye to it. Sincerely Shane H**** graduate Student Kaplan University"

I received this response from the RHoK Operations Manager, Thea Aldrich:

"Hello Mr. H****, I'm very sorry to hear about your legal issues with Kaplan University. We've already started action to cut ties due to this unfortunate situation.

RHoK is an all-volunteer open source project dedicated to helping people through technology. Our involvement here was limited to exposing the platform to our community for critique, etc. We also assist hundreds of small, global nonprofits and humanitarian organizations. We intended to expose them to the services provided by MyITConsultant. We will work with Kaplan University to remove our association immediately and will ensure your work is not exposed to our community, partners and affiliates. I will send you a notification in the next few days to confirm our logo's removal from the site. Good luck, Thea Aldrich RHoK Operation"

"Hi Mr. H****,

One last thing as we move forward. Can you please send me any information you have about the license your code is protected under.

Thank you."

My response to RHoK:

"Hi Thea, Sorry for the late response. I started a new job and then i had some school requirements to complete.  Please find attached email conversations from the beginning.  I have more and will submit them if needed. I also have proof of my code, database model, and concepts.  I also have three Professors and 6 students willing to speak to you anonymously (i,e. with out Kaplan knowing) about my efforts on this project. You should know, the University has offered to give me credit by only placing my name, curriculum and year, and version # of project on the page and have asked me to fill in the attached PDF file. Which I have refused. I believe that my contribution should receive tlttle more recognition, else there is no way to determine who were the main contributors and who were those just hanging on the project and learning and not really contributing. For example, should a person who does Q/A receive just as much credit as I. If so, then I expect that to be fully itemized so others know that I was the PM, creator, and developer early on, and they were the Q/A. I hope this is understandable.  Please let me know if you want to see more, I have lots of stuff to share :), Shane H****"

and my final response from RHoK:

"Hi Shane,

I really appreciate you sharing this with me. I understand the situation much more clearly. I haven't spoken with my contact at Kaplan's PR firm but I'll get back to you as soon as they call me.

I am hopeful we can all work together to come to a solution that is agreeable to everyone involved. Also, I don't think I said it before but thank you for your contribution to the project. We take soft ip rights very seriously and will do everything in our power to ensure attributions are fair. To be clear, my best case scenario here is to resolve this issue so that we can get MyITConsultant into the hands of users who would benefit. However, the need for a piece of software never comes before the needs of our community, which includes you.

In the interest of complete transparency on our side, my intended course of action is to respect your proposed timeline. I will work my hardest to bring about a resolution. Best,


thats right, I never heard back from them again, after repeated emails to them asking about the progress of the take down.

Ironically, i soon received an email from Mimi Rupp (An Intellectual Property Attorney representing Kapan University)

"Hi Mr. H****: I am outside IP counsel to Kaplan, Inc.  Kaplan requested that I reach out to you to discuss your concerns whenever you had a moment. Please let me know a good time for us to chat. Warmest regards, Mimi K. Rupp"

I called Mimi, and she asked me what I wanted. I told her and she asked if I would put that in writing. I said that I had put it into email many times, but nobody at Kaplan would accept it. She then went on to tell me why, throwing all kinds of legal words at me, and claiming the code is open source and that I had no rights to it. I stated I wasn't looking for rights to any code, I was seeking recognition for the work i had contributed. The phone call got nasty, I hung up, and haven't heard from Kaplan, RHoK, or Mimi Rupp!

Please sign this petition and help me force Kaplan University into practicing what they preach. They have a zero tolerance for Plagiarism at the University, but it seems that this is only applicable to the students and not the University or its faculty.


This report was posted on Ripoff Report on 11/21/2013 11:27 AM and is a permanent record located here: http://www.ripoffreport.com/reports/kaplan-university/chicago-illinois-60607/kaplan-university-kaplan-inc-kaplan-univeristy-has-stolen-my-intellectual-work-and-refus-1101215. The posting time indicated is Arizona local time. Arizona does not observe daylight savings so the post time may be Mountain or Pacific depending on the time of year.

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