Posted Sep 23, 2016 08:22 am CDT
The U.S. Department of Education will not implement a panel recommendation that called for suspending the ABA from accrediting new law schools for one year.
In a letter sent to Barry Currier, managing director of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, Emma Vadehra, the department’s chief of staff, wrote that she was accepting the recommendation of department staff to allow the ABA to continue accrediting new law schools rather than the recommendation for a one-year suspension made by the National Advisory Council on Institutional Quality and Integrity.
The recommendations centered on a question of whether the ABA was in compliance with federal regulations regarding mandates that accrediting agencies monitor and re-evaluate programs, and that they enforce standards. The department staff did not find enough evidence in the record that the ABA was out of compliance with either of those mandates, according to Vadehra’s Sept. 22 letter (PDF) to Currier.
The National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity made its recommendation during a June 22 hearing. Discussion included the need for response to increasing law school costs, high student debt and lack of lawyer jobs. Some panel members expressed concern that no law schools have had ABA accreditation withdrawn over the past five years, and that the organization continues to accredit new law schools.
Out of 10 panel members, six voted in favor of the panel’s recommendation.
The staff recommendation did point out deficiencies, which Vadehra’s letter said includes not providing resumés for staff who have accreditation activity responsibilities, and a need to clarify requirements for site evaluation questionnaires in lieu of self-study. To be in compliance, the ABA must submit a compliance report to the department within 30 days.
“We intend to be fully in compliance with the letter’s findings within the time frame provided,” Currier said in an email. “Further, we understand and acknowledge the concerns raised by NACIQI members at the hearing on June 22. The council will continue to work constructively, with law schools and the profession, on those issues.”
ABA Journal: “ABA responds to accreditation panel’s threat to suspend its role”