A group of about 80 persons who said they were students at the Lacaze-Gardner Business School in Washington complained yesterday that they attend classes in a building that houses roaches and rats.

Kathy Scipio, 26, a spokeswoman for the group, told a reporter the hour-long protest in Lafayette Park was called after Daniel Grossman, owner of the school at 710 14th St. NW, did not respond to their complaints. There are suburban branches of the school in Langley Park and Falls Church.

"We pay a lot of money to go to this school," said Scipio, who enrolled at lacaze-Gardner in February to learn general office skills. "We believe that we deserve more for our money."

Students at Lacaze-Gardner, which enrolls about 3,000 students a year, pay a tuition of $2,700 for a nine-month course of study, according to Grossman. In addition they must pay a $50 registration fee and about $150 for books, he said.

Scipio said that the eight-story building is not equipped for fire emergencies. Grossman said he is aware that the school is not prepared for such emergencies. "We are taking action to see that the fire problems are corrected," he told a reporter.

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Scipio also said that classrooms are frequented by roaches and rats. Grossman said that he is not aware of the presence of rats in the classrooms, but said that he had seen roaches occasionally.

The protestors also complained of unsanitary conditions in restroom facilities. Grossman said that he hires a maintenance staff, but that the crew members "sometimes don't do their job."

According to Grossman, Lacaze-Gardner has a regular enrollment of 650 day students and 250 night students and employs a faculty of 61.

The student body consists mainly of persons from low-income Washington families. Most of them have not graduated from high school, and do not have a marketable skills, a school official said.

This year the school will spend more than $700,000 on radio, television and newspaper advertising, according to a spokesman for the school.

The advertisements, Scipio said, promise students the opportunity to learn a secretarial skill while taking courses that also will enable them to qualify for a high school diploma.

A majority of the students who attend the school qualify for and receive some form of federal education finanical assistance, Grossman said.