If you go
What: Charleston County Legislative Delegation committee meeting on Charleston School of
When: 1 p.m. Wednesday
Where: North Charleston City Council Chambers, North Charleston City Hall, third floor, 2500 City Hall Lane, North Charleston
The Charleston County legislative delegation is holding a key committee meeting today on the future of Charleston School of Law, but law school representatives turned down an invitation to speak at the meeting.
State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis said he called a meeting of the delegation’s Courts, Laws and Rules Committee in response to a loud public outcry opposing the possible sale of the school to the for-profit InfiLaw System. Stavrinakis said he wanted to hear from leaders at the state’s Commission on Higher Education about the regulations for transferring ownership of the school and other issues they think are relevant to the law school’s future.
Charleston School of Law and InfiLaw both are private, for-profit groups, he said.
The only government entity in the controversial, possible sale of the law school is the commission, he said.
Law school leaders, in a news release Tuesday, said they would not speak at the meeting because doing so could put their state license at risk.
Stavrinakis said he also invited law school leaders, representatives from the school’s Alumni Board and student body, and the South Carolina Bar Association. Only law school board members George Kosko and Robert Carr declined his invitation.
Leaders of the nine-year-old law school announced late last month that they had entered into a management services agreement with InfiLaw, which sometimes is the first step in a sale, but they since have refused to answer most questions about the agreement or the future of the school.
Many students and alumni oppose a sale to InfiLaw, because they think it would diminish the value of their degrees. The company’s three other law schools have a reputation in some legal circles as “diploma mills.”
Kosko and Carr sent a press release Tuesday stating that they would not attend the meeting because it was possible a merger between the law school and the College of Charleston would be discussed there. The school’s license prohibits them from pursing a merger with a public institution, the release stated.
“Therefore, in an abundance of caution, we must decline to testify in person as we do not want to in any way risk our condition of licensure.” The law school will send a representative to listen to the meeting, the release stated.
Earlier this month, a representative from the Commission on Higher Education said that Charleston School of Law leaders are prohibited from pursuing a merger with a public school, but a public school could pursue such a merger.
“It’s absurd,” Charleston lawyer Peter Wilborn said of Kosko’s and Carr’s reason for not attending the meeting.
“It’s another example of their complete lack of transparency,” said Wilborn, who is representing the school’s Alumni Board.
Stavrinakis said he didn’t call the meeting specifically to talk about a merger with the College of Charleston, but that could come up. Leaders of the private law school “have every right to not show up if they don’t want to,” he said.
“To me, that makes no sense, but it’s up to them.”
Reach Diane Knich at 937-5491 or on Twitter @dianeknich.
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