Charlotte School of Law facing potential closure
Charlotte School of Law has until Aug. 1 to prove financial stability and a more rigorous academic program to the UNC Board of Governors or the school will lose its license, UNC System President Margaret Spellings and UNC Board of Governors decided Wedensday.
The school had its Title IV funding pulled last January and filed for a teach-out plan in February. The American Bar Association informed Charlotte School of Law that it was out of compliance with multiple standards in July 2016.
“We recommend that the BOG restrict CSL’s license today so that they cannot admit any new students, and we recommend that the continuation of the license be conditioned on receiving approval by the ABA and the US Department of Education by Aug. 10,” Spellings said.
Though the school has until Aug. 10 to try and save its license, the possibility of a teach-out must be proven by Aug. 1. For the students still enrolled, a teach-out would mean they would finish their degrees and be the last to graduate before the school lost its license.
“When an academic program is phased out, we try to make sure that the student(s) have an opportunity to complete the program, or at the very least to transition to another one,” Spellings said.
The BOG met Wednesday to decide whether or not to give CSL additional time, and opted to give the school a little bit more time to prove their financial stability is such that a teach-out can happen.
“The recommendation I’ve provided to you today is supposed to provide a very limited window of two months to determine whether or not a teach-out is possible,” Spellings said.
Though the school has been in non-compliance with ABA standards since July 2016, they lost their Title IV funding after it came to light that CSL hadn’t informed its students.
“CSL has gone from 1,400 students at the height of its enrollment to about 100 today,” Spellings said.
She also said that the attorney general is currently investigating CSL’s business practices, which may cause them to lose the potential for a teach-out even if the BOG gives it to them on Aug. 1.
Kimberly van Noort, vice president for academic affairs, presented the review work of CSL’s programs, saying the investigation was both thorough and condemning.
“Our license review relies on input and expertise from UNC General Administration staff as well as experts in these particular matters,” van Noort said.
Van Noort cited multiple figures, such as the school’s 19 percent of students who pass the North Carolina Bar and the extremely low LSAT scores of admitted students.
Though CSL is a privately owned institution, the BOG still conducts licensure reviews based on requirements set down by the NC General Assembly, said Frank Prochaska, associate vice president for academic affairs.
“Our license review is governed by a rules and standards document. That document is a Board of Governor’s policy document that closely follows the requirements of the legislation that originally assigned the responsibility of licensing non-public institutions of education to the Board of Governors,” Prochaska said.
CSL will spend the time between now and August attempting to follow the remedial plan they developed in the hopes of retaining its license in the face of this.
“CSL’s representatives have informed us that they are in the middle of a financial reorganization that will resolve their financial challenge,” Spellings said.