Thursday, December 19, 2013
Here are the introductory paragraphs from the ABA’s announcement:
The Accreditation Committee of the American Bar Association Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar today reported that it has sanctioned the University of Kansas School of Law for violating the ABA Standards for Approval of Law Schools.
The committee found that the law school violated Standard 105-1, Interpretation 105-1 (4) and Standard 308 in launching an American Legal Studies LL.M. degree in January 2012. The school admitted two students to the program before obtaining the committee's acquiescence to assure that the program did not interfere with the school's approved J.D. program.
The committee imposed a public censure on the law school, which must post the censure document prominently on its website home page for one year. The censure is also posted on the website of the ABA Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar.
The committee also imposed a $50,000 monetary penalty based on the finding that the law school made erroneous statements and withheld information during the ABA's consideration of the matter. The committee also noted the risk at which the law school placed the students they admitted to the program before obtaining acquiescence from the ABA.
Here is part of the response from the law school:
The sanctions involved a procedural error surrounding the January 2012 launch of a master’s of law degree in American legal studies. The law school had an existing master’s program in place at the time it launched the new program. The school mistakenly believed that the new program came within the scope of the existing master’s program and, therefore, did not seek acquiescence from the ABA. The acquiescence process provides the ABA with an opportunity to ensure that secondary degree programs do not interfere with law schools’ approved juris doctor programs. When the law school understood acquiescence was required, the school informed the ABA, which granted acquiescence and did not raise any questions about the substance or quality of the program. Neither of the two students who were admitted to the program before the school received official acquiescence was delayed in course work or suffered financial repercussions. One has already graduated with the degree. No other students or programs have been affected by the matter.
To an outsider with no inside knowledge, the sanctions seem a bit steep.