Charlotte School of Law is closed after eight months of fighting to stay open. The North Carolina Attorney General's Office said Tuesday the for-profit school can no longer operate and, if it tries to, the department will force it to shut down. That's because the school's license has expired.
MARSHALL TERRY: What do school officials say about the closure?
LISA WORF: For most of yesterday, they said nothing. Last night the school's president Chidi Ogene finally sent an email to students. Instead of saying the school is closing, he said Charlotte School of Law intends to comply with North Carolina law, by not performing post-secondary degree activity. He says, for that reason, they took down the website and will not hold a previously scheduled town hall meeting this evening.
TERRY: So where does that leave students?
WORF: That's what I'm trying to understand. The UNC Board of Governors is the school's licensor. In that email, Ogene says the school has been working with UNC's licensure unit to "minimize the impact on students." He said the people there notified him the school may confer degrees and post course credit for those who completed requirements and coursework before last Friday. That's also when summer courses began winding down.
TERRY: Is that likely to happen?
WORF: I'm still trying to verify that's a possibility. A UNC system administrator did send a letter to the school's president yesterday. It stated all the reasons the school did not meet its conditions, including failing to get federal loans reinstated and approval from the American Bar Association for a plan moving forward. And she said, because of that, the board refused to call an emergency meeting to extend the deadline, as the school had asked. That letter, at least, didn't say anything about the actual closing process.
TERRY: What does the school's closure mean financially for students?
WORF: Charlotte School of Law tuition runs about $44,000 a year. The North Carolina Attorney General's Office says students who were recently enrolled are entitled to complete loan forgiveness. However, the AG's offices says if students take that, any credits they have are canceled out. Attorney General Josh Stein did say in a statement, he's urging the Education secretary to expand loan forgiveness rights to all students who left Charlotte School of Law during or after the 2016 fall semester. Stein's office continues to investigate the school under consumer protection laws. Of course, the school's low bar passage rate, problems with the curriculum and accepting too many unqualified students is what triggered the ABA to put the school on probation and the Department of Education to pull federal loan money late last year.
TERRY: How are students reacting and how many are actually left?
WORF: Well, it sounds like there were fewer than 100 still enrolled as of last week. Louie Gonzalez was one of them. He completed nearly all the coursework for his summer class and expected to get his degree after that.
GONZALEZ: These three years have cost me in ways that the law school could never even possibly comprehend and to hear they've hung us out to dry is very disconcerting, it's disappointing, it's painful.
WORF: And the school's response doesn't leave him with much hope that he'll be getting a law degree.