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Massage Today
October, 2003, Vol. 03, Issue 10

Illinois Massage School Loses Certification; State Budget Cuts May Affect Others

By Rebecca J. Razo

Applicants to Illinois massage therapy schools will have at least one fewer prospect to consider this fall: the Central Illinois School of Massage Therapy (CISMT). The school lost its Illinois State Board of Education (ISBE) certification on June 30, and is unable to renew it, now that state budget cuts have forced the ISBE to stop regulating vocational and proprietary educational institutions.

Until Aug.

15, the ISBE regulated and certified massage therapy schools. To maintain regulatory compliance and prevent certificate revocation, school license renewal applications were due to the board by April 1. When the CISMT did not submit its application on time, the ISBE issued several compliance notices to the school, all of which went unanswered. A final notice gave the school until June 16 to comply; however, the CISMT application materials weren't received at the ISBE until June 20, four days past the final deadline, and well past the initial due date.

Moreover, an article in the Peoria Journal Star reported that the documents the school eventually submitted were incorrect because they included irrelevant information related to the medical practice of the school's owner, Rebecca Knight.1

Phone calls to the CISMT by Massage Today were not returned.

According to Eric Thatcher, a principal performance consultant with the ISBE, the board gave the school several options, one of which was to withdraw its application, close the school, then reapply under a new name to completely clear itself. But that was before the budget cuts caused the new wrinkle.2

Schools that properly renewed their licenses will be in compliance for at least another year, but schools such as CISMT and new schools that plan to open will have no regulating agency, which could pose a problem for students who enroll in and graduate from those programs: The state licensing board will not grant licenses to students who do not graduate from a board-approved school.2

Without ISBE approval, new massage therapists that graduate from unregulated schools may have trouble finding legal employment in the massage profession. Fortunately, the CISMT may finish instructing students currently enrolled in its program, and their diplomas will show they graduated from a board-approved school, since the school was certified when they enrolled.

However, CISMT is prohibited from recruiting and enrolling new students. To do so would be illegal, according to Thatcher. "Since their certificate was removed, [to enroll new students] would be operating illegally." But how can the CISMT operate illegally if there is no regulating agency? "It's a gray area," Thatcher said.

For more information on Illinois massage school certification and the budget cuts, visit or call the ISBE at 866-262-6663. Look for updates on this situation in future issues of Massage Today.


  1. Hopkins, E. Massage school says it plans to stay open. Peoria Journal Star, June 25, 2003.
  2. Telephone interview with Eric Thatcher, Illinois State Board of Education, Aug. 13, 2003.


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