Potential closure plan for Arizona Summit discussed while accreditation appeal is pending

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Updated: If Arizona Summit School of Law, a for-profit InfiLaw campus, loses its ABA accreditation, students may have the option to finish their education at Arizona State University’s law school.

Representatives from both schools spoke at a meeting Thursday with the Arizona State Board for Private Postsecondary Education, which licenses for-profit law schools, AZCentral reports.

Arizona Summit was placed on probation by the ABA’s Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar in 2017 for noncompliance with academic standards and an admissions standard. In June the section’s council withdrew accreditation approval for the law school.

“ASU Law has been approached to help Arizona Summit Law School to potentially assist in a teach-out plan. The proposed teach-out plan will help students finish their credit hours to graduate and complete their degree at Arizona Summit. We are currently in discussions but nothing has been finalized,” ASU’s Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law said in a statement.

Teri Stanfill, the state board’s executive director, told the ABA Journal that the meeting addressed Arizona Summit’s licensing renewal, which the agency approved by stipulated agreement. It calls for Arizona Summit to maintain a surety bond, provide copies of student records and appear before the board on a quarterly basis.

Penny L. Willrich, a retired Arizona judge currently serving as Arizona Summit’s interim dean, told the ABA Journal that they are “being proactive” in making sure all currently enrolled students have a way to complete their legal education.

Barry Currier, the ABA’s managing director of accreditation and legal education, in a statement said that Arizona Summit had appealed the council’s “decision to remove the law school from the ABA list of approved actions.”

“The appeal suspends the effective date of the Council’s action, and further action, including the formal removal of the Law School from the list of law schools approved by the American Bar Association, depends on the outcome of the appeal. Under the rules governing this appeal, the process of resolving it may take several months,” the statement reads.

Arizona Summit is one of three InfiLaw schools that in May filed federal due process lawsuits against the ABA for accreditation findings that the schools were out of compliance with standards involving admissions and programming.

The matters are ongoing, and filed in different courts. A motion to consolidate the lawsuits was filed by the ABA in May. It asks the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation to transfer the Arizona Summit action, as well as one filed by Florida Coastal School of Law, to the Western District of North Carolina, where the action by the now-shuttered Charlotte School of Law was filed.

According to a response Florida Coastal filed July 23, oral arguments on the North Carolina MDL motion were scheduled for July 26.

Updates with comment from Arizona Summit at 1:49 p.m; updates with comment from Stanfill at 4:16 p.m.

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