To hear the folks at the Charlotte School of Law tell it, life-sustaining federal funds will soon flow back to the school that has seen more than its share of thirst and famine over the last several months.
In a July 31 press release, school President Chidi Ogene announced: “We are very pleased to share that Charlotte School of Law has been notified by the U.S. Department of Education that it is prepared to reinstate the school’s ability to award Title IV funds, effective for the coming fall semester.”
Dean Paul Meggett said via the release that he is excited about being able to help Charlotte students complete their legal education and that the school continues to work closely with the American Bar Association — which put the school on probation in November — and the UNC Board of Governors to “resolve all remaining compliance-related matters.”
The ABA levied its sanctions after accusing the school, in a nutshell, of accepting students who weren’t cut out for law school and then failing to prepare those students to pass a bar exam.
A month later, the DOE snatched federal dollars from Charlotte in an effort, it said, to protect students, safeguard taxpayer dollars and increase institutional accountability.
Charlotte Law, the DOE claimed, was in “substantial” and “persistent” noncompliance, misrepresenting the nature of its academic program.
Teachers left. Students left. It was anarchy. (Tell me you get “The Breakfast Club” reference.)
At the time, then-dean Jay Conison told Lawyers Weekly he believed better days were ahead, and it appears, against all odds, that he may have been right.
But not so fast.
In its own letter, the DOE informed Ogene that in order to have funds restored, Charlotte must agree to participate in a provisional program that requires it to, among other things, submit a $6 million letter of credit, abide by LSAT absolutes, and be more transparent with the school’s goings-on.
The Charlotte Observer reported that a DOE spokesman acknowledged that an agreement is in the works, but added, “Until the discussions reach a successful conclusion, CSL will remain ineligible to participate in the (student loan) programs.”
Even void of complete clarity, the situation is a vast improvement from the terminal prognosis Charlotte Law received less than a year ago.
And according to Ogene, the law school with nine lives is willing to “abide by the necessary conditions, the details of which are under discussion.”
Of course, with the DOE using language like “must” and “will” in its program agreement, it’s unclear exactly what, if anything, is up for discussion.
But stay tuned — this one ain’t over yet.