Law Schools

University of Kansas School of Law censured, fined for 'willful' accrediting violations

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The University of Kansas School of Law has been publicly censured and fined $50,000 for admitting two students into a new LLM degree program without the ABA’s prior approval and for withholding that information from accreditors while they were considering the matter.

The sanctions were announced Thursday in a press release by the accreditation committee of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, the designated accrediting agency for U.S. law schools.

The committee found that the school had established a new LLM degree program in American Legal Studies and enrolled two students prior to seeking or receiving the section’s acquiescence in the program to ensure that it didn’t interfere with the school’s JD program.

It also found that school had committed a “willful violation of the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools” and misled the committee by representing that the new program was merely a new concentration in an existing program when it had already been informed by the university that the program was a new program requiring the approval of the Kansas Board of Regents.

“At best, the law school’s conduct in that regard was grossly negligent,” the sanction says. “Moreover, the law school demonstrated an absence of candor when it failed to voluntarily inform the consultant’s office or the committee that students had already been admitted to the program and were enrolled in the law school.”

The committee also noted the risk at which the school had placed the students by admitting them into a program prior to obtaining the board of regents’ approval or the ABA’s acquiescence. One of the two students has since been awarded a degree. The other is still enrolled in the program.

The school must post the censure document (PDF) prominently on its website for one year. It is also posted on the section’s home page.

Law school dean Stephen Mazza told the Topeka Capital-Journal Thursday that the sanctions resulted from the university’s “mistakes” in launching the new program.

“As a result of this incident, the law school has adopted new procedures to prevent such an error in the future,” he said. “We got ahead of ourselves, and we regret the error.”

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