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Will DeVos Save Charlotte Law School?

By William Vogeler, Esq. | Last updated on

Reports about the death of Charlotte School of Law have been greatly exaggerated -- for now.

According to reports, the U.S. Department of Education may restore federal funding for student loans at the law school. At least that's what Charlotte's interim dean is saying.

"We are excited at the prospect of being able to help our students complete their legal education," said dean Paul Meggett.

Charlotte students are praying it works out. But as Mark Twain also wrote, "You can't pray a lie."

"Substantially" Misrepresented

The law school lost federal funding last year after the school's president made false statements and failed to comply with educational standards. Susan Crim, representing the Department of Education, said the school "substantially" misrepresented its program.

"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," Crim wrote to Charlotte president Chidi Ogene in a letter dated Dec. 19, 2016.

The law school has been reeling, with students suing, professors leaving and the American Bar Association pulling back on accreditation. It was bleak as people tried crowd-funding to help struggling students and even started a food drive for those who didn't have enough to eat.

Media from coast-to-coast speculated that it was over for the failing law school. As a for-profit enterprise with 9 out of 10 students dependent on student loans, Charlotte was dead in the water.

Conditional Lifeline

Then Education Secretary Betsy DeVos threw them a lifeline. The education department has offered to restore student loans if the school puts up $6 million in collateral, refunds first-year students' tuition, hires a monitor, and complies with other conditions.

Bloomberg News reports that DeVos acted after the law school hired her former lobbyist, Lauren Maddox. The school is owned by InfiLaw Systems, which reportedly was trying to sell Charlotte and two other troubled law schools.

The education deal may save Charlotte or merely prolong the suffering. Since the sanctions last year, it is down to 100 students. In 2012, it had nearly 1,200.

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