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Phoenix School of Law Sued By Former Professors
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Two tenured professors were let go from Phoenix Law School for opposing what they describe as the administration’s underhanded tactics to prevent first year students from transferring to other schools. Michael O’Connor and Celia Rumann both allege that they were fired from their positions at the school after opposing planned curriculum and policy changes, and that these changes brought about modifications in their employment provisions which, when not accepted, led to their termination.

The complaint filed by O’Connor and Rumann, who are married to each other, seeks $75,000 in damages but is far more damaging to the school’s reputation. The complaints outline the school’s attempt to steamroll changes to the curriculum past a skeptical faculty, and the changes described paint a picture of a law school that prioritizes profit over the needs of students.

  
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Phoenix School of Law is owned by InfiLaw Corp, which also owns the Charlotte School of Law and Florida Coastal School of Law, and is the only for-profit law school in the Phoenix area. In 2011, Phoenix presented two proposals that were designed to change protocols for students and faculty, known as “Legal Ed 2.0.” O’Connor and Rumann allege that changes included in these programs were designed to make it more difficult for first year students to transfer out of the school via means of changing the curriculum to make courses incompatible with other institutions, grade classes strictly on a pass/fail basis so that other law schools would not know who the top students were, and ban the creation of recommendation letters. On the faculty side, the plan eliminated tenure, as the school’s investors would prefer fewer tenured faculty members.

The complaint alleges that the curriculum changes were voted down by the faculty, but that the vote was overruled by Phoenix School of Law Dean Shirley Mays, according to the Connecticut Law Tribune. Upon the institution of the new policies, O’Connor and Rumann received a new appointment letter which contained terms different than the ones that had previously agreed to. They refused to sign it, instead signing a previous contract sent by the school, and were terminated less than a month later.

The complaint alleges breach of contract and of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Both Phoenix School of Law and the attorneys for O’Connor and Rumann refused to comment on the complaint to the Tribune.

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