CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - Charlotte School of Law's license to operate as a degree-granting institution in North Carolina expired Thursday.
The school failed to meet requirements set out by the UNC Board of Governors in June to continue operating.
Among the requirements set forth in June was that the school qualify for Title IV federal student loan funds by August 10, 2017.
Josh Ellis, a spokesman for the UNC General Administration, said that the Charlotte School of Law had failed to meet that requirement by the deadline.
"It's our understanding that CSL is actively working with DoED to ensure the school can participate in the Title IV loan program, but that CSL has not yet met all of the requirements of DoED, and DoED therefore has not restored CSL to participation in Title IV loan programs," Ellis said in an email to WBTV.
As of Friday, the school can no longer operate, Ellis said.
The school has requested an extension to the amount of time in which it can meet the requirements but any such extension would require approval by the UNC Board of Governors, which is not currently set to meet until September.
Hours after WBTV first reported that the school's operating license had expired, Charlotte School of Law Interim Dean Paul A. Meggett sent an email to students claiming the school's license had not expired.
"Contrary to what you may have heard or read, the UNC Board of Governors has not declared that SL's license has expired," the email began.
The email acknowledged that the school has not met all of the requirements outlined by the Board of Governors but insisted its license had not expired.
Document: Click here to read the full email
"I have appraised UNC of our progress and believe that the condition will be met next week. Accordingly, CSL has asked the UNC Board for an extension of time to meet al conditions set," Meggett wrote.
A school spokeswoman reiterated the fact that the school has requested an extension in a statement to WBTV sent late Friday afternoon.
"Charlotte School of Law is actively working to meet the conditions set out by our state licensing authority and that authority is aware of our progress. Accordingly, CSL has asked the UNC Board for an extension of time to meet all conditions set, as we believe we will be able to demonstrate compliance in short order," the statement said.
The spokeswoman did not immediately answer a follow-up question from WBTV seeking clarification as to why the school's leadership told students the school's license had not expired.
Also on Friday, North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein took the first steps in determining whether the Charlotte School of Law could continue operating.
Under state law, the UNC Board of Governors is responsible for licensing schools and the attorney general is responsible for enforcing those regulations.
"Attorney General Stein has contacted Charlotte School of Law to request the school demonstrate its compliance with the licensure statute," spokeswoman Laura Brewer said in an email. "Along with all other licensure requirements, the Department of Justice is monitoring whether Charlotte School of Law met the U.S. Department of Education's requirement for a $6 million letter of credit to benefit students. Our office will do everything possible to enforce state law and protect students."
Friday's news evoked swift reaction from current students, former students and at least one attorney representing students in a lawsuit against the school.
Attorney Lee Robertson, who serves as president of the Charlotte School of Law Alumni, said he was unaware of the school's failure to keep its license current until WBTV broke the news Friday afternoon.
"That's extremely disappointing and not at all the outcome that any of us had hoped for," Robertson said. "The last official conversation I had about it was that things are on track and preparations were being made to open in August; to have classes in August."
Robertson added that his alumni group had been asking for updates from school administrators but had not received information as they had hoped.
Separately, an attorney representing students in a class action lawsuit against the school related to its ongoing accreditation issues released a statement criticizing the for-profit school's corporate leadership.
"It is not surprising that CSL and its owners Sterling Partners continue to ignore any responsibility to the students, faculty, Department of Education and the North Carolina university system," attorney Hoyt Tesener with the Law Offices of James Scott Farrin said.