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When your law school has to post a bond, you might as well think about visiting hours because it's starting to sound like jail or worse.
Arizona Summit Law School is not in criminal trouble, but it is in pretty big trouble. A few months ago, the American Bar Association put the school on probation for poor performance.
Now the state's licensing board has ordered the school to post a $1.5 million bond to protect students in case the school closes classes or shuts down completely. That would be the worst case scenario for students at the failing law school.
"Just in Case"
"It's just to protect the public, just in case," said Keith Blanchard, deputy director of the Arizona State Board for Private Post-Secondary Education.
Arizona students have been burned at other schools, the Arizona Republic reported. ITT Technical Institute, Everest College, and Anthem College all closed recently. Anthem shut down abruptly, leaving students stranded.
Formerly known as Phoenix School of Law, Arizona Summit has been in the news frequently since it posted a 25% bar pass rate last year. The ABA put the school on accreditation-probation for poor admission practices, academic standards and bar pass rates.
Despite the occasional good news at the law school, the story gets worse.
Arizona Summit is owned by InfiLaw Systems, a for-profit consortium which also operates Charlotte School of Law and Florida Coastal School of Law. Charlotte has also been placed on probation, and lost federal funding for student loans.
Students have sued Charlotte and Florida Coastal for allegedly misleading them to rake in tuition. And in an expose by the Atlantic, the InfiLaw schools were cited as examples of the "law school scam" that sells students on the idea that they can become lawyers without preparing them for the reality.
Sterling Partners, InfiLaw's owners, reportedly wants to sell the schools quickly in order to salvage as much of its investment as possible. But a few years ago, according to one source, the schools were making money "hand-over-fist."
"It was very obvious to me that the schools were headed to a disaster, because they were forced to admit hundreds of unqualified applicants with little to no chance of success," said Frakt, who was once a candidate for dean at Florida Coastal.
He said the profit strategy was to "milk these schools as long as they possibly could, eke out a profit, and then Sterling would break it up and dump them."