Board declines to extend Charlotte School of Law’s license, AG to ensure school closes

CHARLOTTE, NC (WBTV) - The Charlotte School of Law will not receive a license from the University of North Carolina Board of Governors.

The move was confirmed in a letter sent from the UNC Board of Governors to administrators at the law school late Tuesday.

The Board of Governors issues licenses to all private institutions of higher education in North Carolina. The board issued a restricted license to the Charlotte School of Law this past June. Among the requirements for the license to remain active was that the school re-qualify for federal student loans by August 10; a deadline the school did not meet.

As a result, the school's operating license expired on Friday.

The letter from the Board of Governors said the board would not be convening a special meeting consider the school's request to extend its restricted license nor would it consider the request at its next regularly scheduled meeting in September.

A spokeswoman for North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein said Tuesday his office would take steps to ensure the school did not operate without a license.

A spokeswoman for Stein said on Tuesday that the Attorney General wrote US Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to notify her that the school was no longer licensed to operate in North Carolina under state law.

The move could potentially allow recently enrolled students to seek total forgiveness of the loans they took out to attend law school.

"I want to express my disappointment for the students and their families affected by Charlotte School of Law's failure," Stein said in a statement. "While good lawyers have graduated from Charlotte School of Law, the school too often failed to deliver for its students."

In addition to writing DeVos, Stein said his office was continuing to take other action on behalf of former Charlotte School of Law students.

"Second, my office stands ready to help students understand their rights at 919-716-6000 or 1-877-566-7226. Third, my investigation into Charlotte School of Law's adherence to North Carolina's consumer protection laws is ongoing," Stein said.

First word of the law school's closure came in an email from the president of the Charlotte School of Law Alumni Association sent an email to the group's members Tuesday morning saying the law school appeared to be closing immediately.

The email comes less than a day after the American Bar Association rejected a plan put forth by the school that would allow it to remain open and teach its remaining students this year while gradually winding down operations.

Multiple sources confirmed to WBTV on Monday night that the ABA rejected a teach-out plan from Charlotte School of Law.

On Friday, WBTV was first to report that the school's state operating license had expired. The school had been operating on a restricted license granted by the UNC Board of Governors in June. The restricted license required, among other things, that the school qualify for federal student aid by August 10, a benchmark the school missed.

In his email to alumni sent Monday morning, CSL Alumni Association president Lee Robertson said he spoke with the school's interim dean regarding the recent regulatory developments and the school's future.

"It appears that there is no path forward. The administration and the faculty are aware of this, and I understand that the students will be informed today," Robertson said in his email. "Our law school, it seems, is closing, effective immediately."

A school spokeswoman has not responded to multiple emails from WBTV seeking comment. The Charlotte School of Law website was had been taken down as of Tuesday morning.

On Friday, the school's dean sent an email to students claiming the school would still open for class this fall as planned. The email said school administrators were working with the UNC Board of Governors to extend its license, which had expired the day before.

But WBTV obtained an exclusive copy of a letter sent by the school to the Board of Governors on August 10—the day the school's license expired—in which it argued it should be allowed to continue operating even though it had not met all of the requirements to remain open.?

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