As long as they are certified to give a level I course you should be good. I've seen topics about Kirkwood's program at TGR and they seem to be legit. Hop over to splitboard and post questions about avy courses in the Tahoe area. I am sure some of the guys there like san frantisco or bcrider will have some info.
If you are needing to get gear, Patroller Supply
extends discounts on avy gear to those I pass along to them. They carry low end to high end beacons all at a discount already. If you are looking for a good budget beacon the Ortovox D3 is pretty dang good and gives you the digital beacon benefits. Get a metal shovel, plastics suck for removing avalanche debris. You'll want to give them a call or leave a note about the referral.
Regardless I know the gear and a course is not cheap, but don't skimp it. After all, what is your life and your friend's life worth?