TaxProf Blog

Editor: Paul L. Caron, Dean
Pepperdine University School of Law

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Editorial:  'Unconscionable' Leaders Hid Charlotte Law School's Problems To Keep Revenue Flowing; 'Catastrophic Fiasco May Destroy Lives Of Hundreds Of Innocent Students'

FCFollowing up on my previous posts (links below):  Charlotte Observer editorial, Charlotte School of Law Students Deserved Better:

Charlotte School of Law leaders have made some big mistakes, it seems. Unfortunately, the people paying for those mistakes are hundreds of innocent law school students.

According to recent reporting from the Observer’s Michael Gordon, students received little, if any, warning that the school has been under heavy accreditation scrutiny from the American Bar Association since March 2014, or that it has repeatedly been found lacking in its bar exam passage rate, academic rigor and its admissions standards. The ABA called it a “substantial and persistent” problem.

The 700 or so students at the private, for-profit law school in uptown Charlotte didn’t learn about all that until the ABA formally placed the school on probation in November, news that arrived just as final exams were about to begin.

That was followed by news that these same problems had prompted the U.S. Department of Education to block millions of dollars in student loans and other federal financial aid that would normally flow to the school. The school had deceived students by masking the extent of its problems, the DOE said. ...

It is unclear if classes will resume on Jan. 14 as scheduled.

But what seems abundantly clear is that students remained in the dark about this for months, even as they continued to write hefty tuition checks and take out student loans to cover $60,000 in annual tuition and fees.

It seems particularly unconscionable that the school’s leadership would let students enroll for this fall’s classes without telling them about what was going on — especially since an ABA noncompliance report issued in July required the school to do exactly that. Students surely suspect that the school’s leadership cared more about the income stream than their welfare. ...

We certainly sympathize with students who have filed a federal class-action lawsuit against the school. As the law school’s faculty said in an open letter last week, “the missteps of key decision-makers should never overshadow the positive contributions and capabilities” of students and alumni.

As “missteps” go, this one looks catastrophic. Lives have been scrambled, trust betrayed, and career dreams postponed or potentially dashed.

We hope this fiasco doesn’t cost students their financial aid or their futures. But if the bar association and federal education officials are right, we certainly hope it costs the responsible parties their jobs.

Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:

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Doesn't the author of the oped know that Charlotte, and law schools generally, are above reproach or accountability for their students'/society's/bar examiners'/ etc. failures and should be allowed to continue to operate status quo due to the lack of diversity in the legal profession? Duh.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 29, 2016 1:23:50 PM

Many in legal ed have been sounding this clarion for some time, while greedy bureaucrats have accused those raising concerns as chickens little. In reality, it was the charlatans at Charleston and elsewhere that brought down the sky.

Posted by: Anon | Dec 29, 2016 1:44:51 PM

C'mon, usual suspects: defend Charlotte Law School and the financial benefits of attending. Exhort those students to borrow heavily from private lenders if they can't get Title IV loans anymore. Scold the government and ABA for daring to utilize the barest of consumer protections. After all, law schools are all identical and it can only ever end in financial success, which is the only possible yardstick for measuring whether a program is worthwhile.

Posted by: Unemployed Northeastern | Dec 29, 2016 2:31:15 PM

Will this have any effect on Charlotte law grads' million dollar JD premium?

Posted by: Lonnie | Dec 30, 2016 10:17:26 AM