Paul L. Caron

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

ABA Gives An Inch In Accreditation Fight With Florida Coastal Law

Florida Coastal (2017), ABA Gives an Inch in Accreditation Fight with Florida Coastal Law:

The American Bar Association has granted Florida Coastal School of Law a reprieve from disclosing its weak bar pass record to current students by July 2.

The ABA stayed a requirement that the school inform each student of its recent first-time bar pass rates in Florida and Georgia—broken down by quartiles—as well as which quartile of the class the student falls into based on their grades. Hence, there is no need for a federal judge to immediately step into the fray over the school’s accreditation status, according to a motion in opposition of Florida Coastal’s request for a preliminary injunction filed Monday by the ABA. The bar pass disclosure is one of several requirements the ABA’s accreditation committee imposed in April after finding the Jacksonville school out of compliance with its standards pertaining to admissions and academic support.

Florida Coastal first sued the ABA in May over its uncertain accreditation status, and on June 15 requested a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction enjoining the bar pass disclosure, a requirement that the school disclose on its website that it has been found out of compliance with the ABA standards, and a campus visit by an ABA fact finder.

The school claimed the mandated bar pass disclosure would be harmful to students because it would inflate their true risk of failing the all-important licensing exam given that the current class is stronger academically than its recent predecessors. But according to the ABA’s motion of opposition to the school’s request, filed Monday in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the ABA’s Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admission to the Bar opted to stay the bar pass disclosure until it could consider the school’s 135-page appeal, which it is slated to take up in August.

“In its filing last night, the ABA announced that the law school need not disseminate on July 2 a communication to students that we contend is misleading,” said Kirkland & Ellis partner Chris Bartolomucci, who is representing Florida Coastal. “The law school is pleased that the ABA changed its mind, but it took filing a lawsuit and a preliminary injunction motion to get them there.”

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