People concerned about the future of the Charleston School of Law will have to wait a little longer to find out if a sale to InfiLaw System can move forward.
The state Commission on Higher Education was expected to vote Thursday on whether to grant InfiLaw a license to operate the school. But its Academic Affairs and Licensing Committee deferred the matter so members could have more time to review application materials, including letters submitted by students, alumni, and other interested parties.
The licensing committee has scheduled a special meeting May 19, where it will consider and vote on InfiLaw's application. It will then forward that recommendation to the full commission for a vote at its June 5 meeting. The full commission will make the final decision on the license.
Committee members have also asked that two public hearings be held before June 5 to provide a final opportunity for input. Those hearings have not yet been scheduled.
InfiLaw spokeswoman Kathy Heldman said before the meeting that representatives from InfiLaw have worked closely with commission staff members over the past several months, providing information and answering questions as they worked to determine whether InfiLaw met the requirements for a license.
"We continue to believe the addition of the Charleston School of Law to the consortium of InfiLaw schools is in the best interest of InfiLaw and Charleston," Heldman said.
After extensive research, staff members have recommended that the commission approve InfiLaw's application for a license.
The license is one of two remaining hurdles facing the private, for-profit InfiLaw in its quest to buy and run the Charleston School of Law. It also must get approval from the American Bar Association.
Owners of the private law school announced in July that they had entered into a management services agreement with InfiLaw, which owns three other law schools. They subsequently announced that a sale was in the works.
Many people with connections to the school are strongly opposed to a sale to InfiLaw including: students, some faculty members, legal professionals and Charleston Mayor Joe Riley. They have said that academic standards at InfiLaw's other schools are lower than those of the Charleston school. A sale to InfiLaw, they have said, could diminish the value of a Charleston School of Law degree.
Julie Carullo, the commission's deputy director, said many students and alumni concerned about the law school's future, and two representatives from InfiLaw, showed up at Thursday's committee meeting.
Committee members asked the InfiLaw representatives questions about the governance model the company will use at the Charleston school, facilities, academics, and the company's business model.
Andy Abrams, the law school's president and dean, said the ABA approval process also is in the works. No date has been set for that decision, but it could come as early as the summer or fall.
Reach Diane Knich at 843-937-5491 or on Twitter at @dianeknich.
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