Florida Coastal another step toward closure as emergency motion denied

A federal court upholds the U.S. Department of Education’s termination of the law school’s access to student loans.

  • By Max Marbut
  • | 3:50 p.m. August 10, 2021
  • | 5 Free Articles Remaining!
Florida Coastal School of Law at 8787 Baypine Road in Baymeadows.
Florida Coastal School of Law at 8787 Baypine Road in Baymeadows.
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U.S. District Judge Marcia Morales Howard denied Florida Coastal School of Law’s emergency motion for a restraining order that would have temporarily restored the school’s access to the Title IV federal student loan program.

Peter Goplerud, president and dean of Florida Coastal
Peter Goplerud, president and dean of Florida Coastal

Without access to the loan program, the school has said it will close this month.

“Last night Judge Howard issued her ruling in our challenge to the Department of Education. Unfortunately, she ruled against us. We are reviewing the opinion with counsel to assess options for next steps as we work diligently to support our students and staff,” said Peter Goplerud, president and dean of Florida Coastal, in an email Aug. 10.

The law school filed a lawsuit July 20 against the U.S. Department of Education that alleges the department exceeded and abused its authority and acted arbitrarily and without due process in terminating the school’s Program Participation Agreement in the student loan program May 13.

“FCSL has not shown that the Department acted contrary to the law or outside of its ample discretion in determining whether FCSL was eligible to participate in the Title IV, HEA programs or the conditions under which the Department would issue a new PPA,” Howard wrote in the order.

“Nor has FCSL shown that the reasons the Department provided for its determination were based on irrelevant factors or unsupported by the administrative record before the agency.”

Howard referenced that Florida Coastal currently is operating under a teach-out plan approved by the American Bar Association that allows students to transfer immediately to other law schools to complete their post-graduate education and receive a juris doctor degree.

“The Court recognizes that the denial of injunctive relief here may well end FCSL’s battle to continue to provide legal education in the Jacksonville community. While the school’s closure has been anticipated at least since the ABA’s approval of the Teach-Out Plan, no doubt some students, faculty and staff have clung to the hope that the school would find a way to reopen,” she wrote

“The closure may significantly jeopardize the dreams of hardworking students and the financial futures of the remaining students, faculty, staff, and investors. But a dire outcome, no matter how devastating, cannot support the entry of injunctive relief in a case such as this where the school has made no showing that it can ultimately succeed on the merits of its attempt under the APA to obtain an order requiring the Department to reinstate its eligibility to participate in Title IV, HEA programs.”

Goplerud said July 1 that if Florida Coastal’s access to the federal loan program was not restored, the school would close in early August, after final exams for the summer term.

About 135 students and 15 faculty and staff members would be affected by the closure, he said.

Florida Coastal’s ABA accreditation will continue until July 1, 2023, to allow enrolled students to receive credits earned as transient students at other ABA-approved law schools.



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