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Florida Coastal School of Law sues US Department of Education

Florida Coastal School of Law
Florida Coastal School of Law

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Florida Coastal School of Law has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Education and Education Secretary Miguel Cardona.

The lawsuit comes after News4Jax reported in May that DOE blocked FCSL from getting back into the Title IV student loan program.

In the lawsuit, FCSL says that without access to the loan money, it will be forced to close, students will have to find alternatives to finish law school and faculty/staff will lose their jobs.

FCSL argues it’s tried to meet DOE’s demands to demonstrate financial security, but that DOE has demonstrated its true objective was to close a “viable school as part of a political agenda against proprietary education.” The school argues that DOE’s explanations for its actions are “contrary to the evidence and law.”

FCSL alleges DOE “manufactured new reasons to keep the school closed.”

FCSL is owned by InfiLaw Corporation, which previously operated two other law schools: Charlotte School of Law (closed in 2017) and Arizona Summit Law School (closed in 2018).

FCSL states in the lawsuit it is fully approved by the American Bar Association and has been continuously since 2002. However, the ABA previously approved a “teach-out” plan -- a plan that allows their accreditation to continue until July 1, 2023 -- for the limited purpose of allowing current students to transfer in credits from other schools so they can then earn their degree from FCSL. According to the ABA, FCSL isn’t allowed to offer any credit-bearing courses beyond the summer 2021 term.

According to the lawsuit, FCSL says DOE cites ABA’s findings of noncompliance with accreditation standards as a way to conclude the school is not providing services to students but says DOE didn’t identify any instance where the “ABA took adverse action or sanctions against the school for those findings.”

FCSL wants the court to issue an order, getting its Title IV funding eligibility reinstated.