The Association of American Law Schools has announced that it has placed Villanova University’s law school on probation for two years for its role in grade-inflation two years ago. The organization, which is the main professional organization for law schools in the country, announced that it was not handing down harder punishments on the school because it conducted a thorough investigation into the issue and took measure to prevent it from happening again in the future.
The organization does not have the authority to affect the academic accreditation of the law school but it very well could have banned the law school faculty from attending its conferences. It could have also withheld faculty recruitment services from the university and its law school.
“Because the misconduct was intentional and long-standing and because it is so fundamentally inconsistent with basic concepts underlying AALS core values and bylaws, the executive committee condemns these actions and places the law school on probation for a period of two years,” wrote Susan Westerberg Prager.
Prager is the executive director of the Association of American Law Schools. She wrote that in a letter on November 28 that has been published on the website for the Villanova law school.
Early in 2011, Villanova released information that its admissions data for incoming freshmen was falsified. That data was falsified for an unknown period before 2010. The school also announced at that time that the law firm of Ropes & Gray L.L.P., from Boston, was hired to conduct an investigation into the issue.
The school was censured in August of 2011 by the American Bar Association. The ABA also said that the law school would keep its accreditation because of the steps it took to investigate the matter and make sure that it did not happen again in the future. KPMG was hired by the school to analyze procedures and recommend tighter controls for data. Louis Freeh, the former director of the FBI, was also hired as an outside monitor of the school for two years.
The letter from the Association of American Law Schools also noted that the data falsified by the Villanova law school was done by four employees at the law school, all of whom were fired from their jobs. According to reports, one of those involved was the former dean, Mark Sargent. Sargent left the school in 2009 following his involvement in a Kennett Township prostitution investigation since he was a reported client of the prostitution ring being investigated. The letter from the Association of American Law Schools also said that the falsification of the data ended after Sargent left the school.