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Students at Charlotte School of Law may want to think about taking an extra-long Christmas break.
The U.S Department of Education has announced that Charlotte School of Law can no longer receive federal student loans and grants because it "substantially" misrepresented its program and failed to comply with educational standards. The department cited numerous problems at the school, and directly criticized its president for misrepresenting the school's bar pass rates.
"Your statement was false and/or misleading, particularly when you were making representations as a law school president responding to questions about an accreditor's finding of the school's substantial and persistent failures to prepare students for admission to the bar," Department representative Susan Crim wrote to Charlotte president Chidi Ogene in a letter dated Dec. 19, 2016.
Ogene's statements, which were published in the Charlotte Business Journal on November 30, 2016, seem to have been the straw that broke the department's back. He said in an interview that his school was improving its bar pass rates, but in fact it was falling well below state averages.
"If you look at bar pass rates between 2009 and 2013, we were consistently at or above the state bar average pass rate," he claimed. "That is an incredible feat for a new school."
Despite warnings from the education department and the American Bar Association, the law school has failed to correct failings that have persisted at the school for years. The ABA granted the school provisional accreditation in 2008 and full approval in 2011, but placed the school on probation in November for non-compliance with various accreditation standards, including admissions requirements.
Charlotte opened in 2004 as part of The InfiLaw System, a consortium of for-profit law schools that includes Florida Coastal School of Law and Arizona Summit Law School. In an expose by the Atlantic, the schools were cited as examples of the "law school scam" that sells students on the idea that can become lawyers without preparing them for the reality.
Reality came harshly for those students at Charlotte who banked on federal loans to make it through law school. The school may no longer be in session.
"The ABA repeatedly found that Charlotte School of Law does not prepare students for participation in the legal profession," said Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell said in a press release. "CSL's actions were misleading and dishonest. We can no longer allow them continued access to federal student aid."
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