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Jax Daily Record Thursday, Sep. 12, 201906:41 PM EST

New president and interim dean appointed at Florida Coastal 

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The law school says it will receive student financial aid funds starting Friday.

Florida Coastal School of Law announced Thursday that InfiLaw CEO Rick Inatome appointed Jennifer Reiber as interim dean and Peter Goplerud as president.

InfiLaw owns Florida Coastal.

Former Dean Scott DeVito resigned Tuesday after four years in the position.

“It’s just the right time for me to step down and look at other things I’ve been intending to do,” DeVito said in an interview Wednesday.

The Jacksonville for-profit law school also said it received confirmation Thursday afternoon that starting Friday, it will begin to receive the fall 2019 student federal financial aid funds from the Department of Education.

Florida Coastal said it will begin processing those funds immediately so students can access the funds starting Monday. 

“Please know Florida Coastal leadership takes very seriously the delay in disbursement of student federal financial aid funds, and we understand this delay created undue hardship and stress for our students,” the release said.

Florida Coastal said leadership intends to continue to work with the American Bar Association Council of the Section of Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar (Council) to convert the school to not-for-profit status. 

“Although Florida Coastal’s previously filed application for conversion was recently denied, the Council has allowed Florida Coastal to submit additional items in order to grant acquiescence,” the release said.

It said the school intends to submit those items to the council for review at its November meeting. 

Reiber began teaching at Florida Coastal in spring 2009 while practicing law in Jacksonville and was hired in August 2010 as a full-time faculty member. She has been the academic dean since 2016.

Since spring 2018, she taught the law school’s National Law Survey Multi-State Bar Exam class and will continue to teach the class.

Goplerud joined Florida Coastal School of Law as dean in 2004 and served to 2013. After that, he worked with InfiLaw.

DeVito notified Florida Coastal students and faculty Tuesday of his resignation via email. In a statement to faculty, DeVito wrote: 

“It has been a great honor to be a professor at Florida Coastal for the last eleven years and to have been your dean for the last four. After considerable thought and personal reflection, I have made the decision to resign from Florida Coastal School of Law. I wish you all the best and will greatly miss you.”

The American Bar Association in August denied Florida Coastal’s application to convert to a nonprofit law school. DeVito said his resignation was not related to that, but he expects the school to reapply for nonprofit status.

ABAJournal.com of the American Bar Association reported Wednesday that the InfiLaw Corp., an entity of the private equity company Sterling Capital Partners, had three law schools until recently.

Florida Coastal is the only one that remains open and not operating under a teach-out plan, it reported.

The law schools, in separate lawsuits, sued the ABA in May 2018 regarding accreditation findings. By April, all the law schools agreed to dismiss the actions, it said.

ABAJournal.com said Florida Coastal is the only InfiLaw campus that has not been placed on probation by the ABA legal ed section’s council. 

It said that in 2017, the council found that the law school was “significantly out of compliance” with various standards regarding admissions and legal education programs. By May, the council found that the school had demonstrated compliance with the standards in question.

ABAJournal.com reported that according to Florida Coastal’s Standard 509 Information Report for 2018, its median LSAT score is 150 and the median undergraduate GPA is 3.14. The document showed a total of 207 students.

The site reported that for the class of 2016, the ultimate bar passage rate was 64.54%, according to ABA data. In 2018, the law school had 185 first-time test-takers, and the pass rate was 56.76%.

 

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