ABA Legal Ed rejects Arizona Summit's proposed teach-out plan
A teach-out plan for Infilaw’s Arizona Summit School of Law, by which its remaining students would finish course work for their degrees at Arizona State University’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, has been rejected by the council of the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
The teach-out agreement was incomplete and not executed by the parties, states the notice, posted Thursday to the legal education website.
“The plan was not ripe for approval. The law school has not yet announced that it will cease operations, and the law school’s appeal of the council’s decision to withdraw approval led to a stay of the council’s decision pending the outcome of the law school’s appeal,” the notice reads.
Arizona Summit, a for-profit school, has been on probation since March 2017. In June 2018, the council announced it had withdrawn approval for the law school, which was found to be out of compliance with various accreditation standards regarding admissions. That may be the first time approval of an operating law school was involuntarily revoked by the council.
Peter Goplerud, Arizona Summit’s interim president, says there are 22 Arizona Summit students who need individual plans. Some of them are visiting students at ASU and Florida Coastal, he says, and others are on leave.
The law school plans to submit another teach-out plan to the council, Goplerud says, and once a plan is approved and carried out, Arizona Summit will close.
In July, Arizona Summit told the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, which licenses for-profit law schools, that their students might have the option of finishing their law degrees at ASU. ASU in a statement said they were in discussions, and nothing had been finalized.
Arizona Summit announced in August that it would not be holding fall classes, and was negotiating a teach-out plan with another school. When the ABA Journal contacted ASU at that time, the school said they were still in negotiations, noting that Arizona Summit had not yet said it was closing, and its administrative appeal remained open.
Arizona Summit is one of three Infilaw schools that filed federal lawsuits in May challenging ABA accreditation findings, arguing that due process rights had been violated. Those three cases remain ongoing. Florida Coastal School of Law is the only Infilaw school that has not been placed on probation and remains open. Out of 104 Florida Coastal graduates who sat for the July 2018 bar exam, the pass rate was 62.5 percent, according to the Florida Board of Bar Examiners.
Arizona has not released its July 2018 bar exam statistics yet. For July 2017, 129 Arizona Summit graduates took the state bar, and the pass rate was 20.1 percent.
A few third-year Arizona Summit students are at ASU Law as visiting students, Law.com reported. Law.com had also reported that some Arizona Summit students have transferred to Florida Coastal, but Dean Scott DeVito tells the ABA Journal that this is incorrect, and that the Arizona Summit students on his campus are also visiting students, not permanent transfers. Twenty-five Arizona Summit students transferred to the University of North Dakota School of Law, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
Updated on Oct. 16 to correct the story with Dean Scott DeVito’s information.