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Concordia Law School shutdown blindsides incoming student, who says 'nothing was done' to help newly admitted

Idaho's Attorney General declined to comment.
Posted at 12:07 AM, Sep 15, 2020
and last updated 2020-09-15 13:06:25-04

BOISE, Idaho — Concordia Law School in Boise was one of three law schools nationally, that for two consecutive years, posted a 100% ultimate bar pass rate, according to their website. This, among other things, is what attracted one aspiring lawyer to the school, but her plans were upended when — as we previously reported — the university permanently shuttered at the close of its summer term.

(Former) Interim Dean Latonia Haney Keith called the decision to close the law school “devastating,” explaining the university had signed a letter of intent in February to transfer the School of Law to Concordia St. Paul, but “the parties were unable to consummate the transaction.”

Prior to learning of this, Sarah Allen, a resident of Washington state, said she was looking forward to calling Boise home this summer. She said she even found an apartment located just five minutes away from Concordia — her first-choice law school — where she was thrilled to have been admitted.

That’s when the unexpected happened.

“That email popped up in my inbox instead that, ‘Oh we regret to inform you that Concordia will be closing indefinitely.’ And I think, at that point, it honestly didn’t hit me right away… that was the absolute farthest thing from my mind,” said Allen.

She said Concordia’s admissions office had given her no indication that the law school, which had operated in Boise since 2012, would be closing — even after she’d heard in February that Concordia University-Portland was closing.

“Back in February… I called back up the admissions office at Concordia, and said, ‘Hey, I’m a student who’s applying, and I heard that your school in Portland’s closing, and I just wanted to make sure that you’re not closing. And they said ‘No, no, we’re fine, we’re not closing at all,’” said Allen.

But Allen’s not the only student who received the shocking news of the closure — so did the law school’s roughly 150 other students.

“We’ll be moving forward in finding options for them to either transfer to other law schools,” said Keith in June to our team at Idaho News 6, “Or potentially [enter] teach-out agreements with other institutions, trying to find them — our focus has to be on our students — and trying to find them a path forward.”

The American Bar Association approved Concordia’s submitted revised teach-out plan in July, according to our media partners at the Idaho Statesman.

Subsequently, the University of Idaho stepped in to enroll about 110 of Concordia’s 2nd and 3rd year students, who Allen says took priority over newly admitted first-year students.

Allen says all she got was an emailed list with links to other schools’ admissions offices.

“I received that email, I believe, on June 30, and I mean, classes were scheduled to start, I believe, August 24,” said Allen. “You went to go click to go submit an application, and you couldn’t, because the deadline had already been passed. I experienced that numerous times.”

“The other problem I had personally with it, was other schools that were listed were clear across the country… the laws aren’t the same and that’s not where I want to practice law,” said Allen.

The debacle also poses a threat to the financial capabilities many students previously felt secure with, pre-shutdown.

“Now, on top of it, it’s going to [cost] probably double to get into any other school, compared to what Concordia was offering me,” said Allen.

Federal law states accredited colleges, like Concordia, are required to have teach-out plans to help students transition to other schools without complication.

As the Idaho Statesman reports, a group of about 30 students signed a letter asking Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden to review the case.

Our attempts at communication with Wasden's Office were met with an email response from his spokesperson Scott Graf, reading, “I can confirm that our office received the letter you mentioned in your voicemail. However, we will decline additional comment at this time.”

Allen says she continued to reach out to Concordia admissions staff for help, but as staff started to dwindle, so did the responses she received.

“Which was also really sad because, again, I thought the staff there was absolutely amazing... still to this day, I can’t believe that nothing, really, nothing was done,” said Allen.

Allen decided to stay in Washington until she can begin applying for schools again next year.

We will continue to follow this story for you.