The Legal Beat
Lawsuit Against Struggling Law School Alleges They Tried To ‘Artificially Inflate’ Bar Exam Passage Rate
Posted on Monday September 23, 2019
Things aren’t really going well for Florida Coastal School of Law. After their application to the American Bar Association to convert to a nonprofit school was denied, they also had their dean up and quit only a few weeks into the semester… oh, and the law students’ federal loan disbursements were delayed. Then last week a lawsuit was filed against Florida Coastal by a former student alleging the school hatched a plan to “artificially inflate” the bar exam passage rate of its students, since one of the issues the law school has had with the ABA’s accreditation standards is its low bar passage rate.
The Jane Doe plaintiff seeks $500,000 in damages and the complaint alleges the bar prep class the law school instituted as a graduation requirement was designed to “weed out students” prior to graduation in an effort to “artificially inflate” bar passage rates. Students who didn’t pass the bar prep class couldn’t graduate and therefore were ineligible to sit for the bar exam. Unfortunately, the complaint alleges that what it took to pass that bar prep class was constantly changing and inconsistently applied, as reported by the Jax Daily Record:
The plaintiff alleges that halfway through her time at the school, Florida Coastal changed its passing and graduation requirements; that she was forced to enroll in a Bar examination preparation course; and that Florida Coastal repeatedly changed the passing requirements for the course between semesters.
Originally, the complaint alleges, a 60% score was required to pass the course. Students were advised that was changed to 50%, but grades above the 50% percent threshold would not be determined by the number of questions answered correctly, but rather based on a curve relative to the scores of other students.
Thus, even within the same class, FCSL did not apply grading rules consistently, with some students graded on a curve while others were graded and failed (including the plaintiff) strictly based on the number of questions answered correctly.
Interim Dean Jennifer Reiber said the law school did not have a comment on the litigation.
Kathryn Rubino is a Senior Editor at Above the Law, and host of The Jabot podcast. AtL tipsters are the best, so please connect with her. Feel free to email her with any tips, questions, or comments and follow her on Twitter (@Kathryn1).