The Charlotte School of Law Has Renewed Hope After Lobbying Betsy DeVos


charlotte_school_of_lawThe Charlotte School of Law finally has some renewed hope after some crafty lobbying with Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education.

Last year, the US Secretary of Education cut all federal funding to the school for repeated violations.

“The ABA repeatedly found that the Charlotte School of Law does not prepare students for participation in the legal profession. Yet CSL continuously misrepresented itself to current and prospective students as hitting the mark,” commented U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell. “CSL’s actions were misleading and dishonest. We can no longer allow them continued access to federal student aid.”

One day before Donald Trump’s new Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, was confirmed, The Charlotte School of Law hired Lauren Maddox, a lobbyist with the Podesta Group in Washington and a former Education Department spokeswoman, has worked for senior Republicans in Congress.

After paying her a total of $130,000 in lobbying fees, DeVos’s agency just recently told the law school that—provided it puts up $6 million in collateral and agrees to certain conditions, such as offering refunds to first-years and hiring a monitor—it would consider reinstating its access to the federal student-aid program.

Such a move could bring in tens of millions of dollars in annual revenue for the school, federal data suggest, if the state of North Carolina reverses its June ban on enrolling new students and lets the school start recruiting them. The resumption of federal student-aid cash could boost the school’s case before the state, which has questioned Charlotte Law’s finances and whether the school can stay in business for at least three years. The school has said it believes that’s the case.

The typical Charlotte Law graduate leaves school owing $167,000—nearly the amount needed to buy the typical Charlotte-area home—and making $49,000 a year. More of its 2016 grads were unemployed and looking for work than were employed in full-time, long-term jobs that required them to have passed the bar, according to an April disclosure. Its recent grads pass the bar at a rate nearly 20 percent lower than the statewide average.

Challenges remain for Charlotte Law. It still must satisfy its accreditor, the American Bar Association, which has put it on probation, and its state licensing agency, the University of North Carolina Board of Governors, which barred it in June from enrolling new students. Its enrollment has plummeted from nearly 1,400 students in 2012 to 100 now, as of the most recent count.