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Charlotte School Of Law Submits Plan To Stay Open Through 2019

Charlotte School of Law
Davie Hinshaw
The Charlotte Observer

There was a bit of movement on the future of Charlotte School of Law over the weekend. The school says it plans to stay open until the end of 2019, so that its current students can graduate from the school. It's not clear what would happen after that. The only problem is that the Department of Education refuses to grant federal loans to any of the school's students. Charlotte School of Law is banking on a new administration to reverse that decision.  Joining All Things Considered Host Mark Rumsey is Lisa Worf.   

MR: So what's the school's plan to gradually wind down?

LW: Gradual is the right word to use.  On Friday, Charlotte School of Law notified students that it submitted a plan to its accreditor, the American Bar Association. Under that plan, current faculty would continue teaching students in Charlotte through December 2019. Students degrees would come from Charlotte School of Law, but another for- profit InfiLaw-owned school would play a big role. Florida Coastal School of Law would provide "quality assurance and support for the academic program." But that school has struggled with some of the same things Charlotte School of Law does – a low bar passage rate and accusations of accepting unqualified students. Now, the plan hinges on getting that federal loan money reinstated. 

MR: How does the school hope to do that?

LW: The plan does not adhere to the criteria the Department of Education laid out.  The agency expected any wind-down plan, or in their lingo teach-out plan, to be pretty limited – more along the lines of one semester and not three years. And all instruction would have to be undertaken by another school. If the school agreed to close along those lines, students would not have a degree, but at least they'd get their debt forgiven. So instead, school leaders intend to challenge the Department of Education.  In a statement, the school calls the agency's decision to halt federal loan money "a parting shot by an administration intent on closing the school regardless of the harm and disruption to students." 

MR: Does the school have a chance of succeeding?

LW: Right now it's unclear. Any change would have to happen fairly quickly for the school to remain viable, since last year it received the bulk of its revenue, $48 million from federal loans.

MR: What do students think about this plan?

LW: They don't like it. They point to Charlotte School of Law's quality assurance partner being their sister InfiLaw school Florida Coastal. And they don't have much faith in the staying power of that school. Here's 3rd year student Rob Barchiesi. 

BARCHIESI: I think it's a travesty, in a sense that you have the Charlotte School of Law who is essentially shut down for the same reasons that the Florida School of Law now faces.  

LW: So not much has really changed since Charlotte School of Law said a few weeks ago it would fight the Department of Education. Now, the school is just waiting on the ABA to approve the plan. The school says it will be up for a vote in March.