In further fallout from the grade-inflation scandal that rocked Villanova University law school nearly two years ago, the Association of American Law Schools has placed the school on probation for two years.
The association, the main professional organization for law schools in the United States, said it stopped short of imposing tougher sanctions because Villanova had been thorough in investigating the scandal and taking steps to prevent future occurrences.
The association has no ability to affect Villanova's crucial academic accreditation, but it could have banned Villanova law school faculty from participating in its conferences, and it might have withheld faculty recruitment services from the university.
"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, the AALS executive director, in a Nov. 28 letter that has been posted on the Villanova law school website.
Villanova disclosed in early 2011 that admissions data for incoming freshmen had been falsified for an unknown period prior to 2010 and that the Boston law firm of Ropes & Gray L.L.P. had been hired to conduct an internal investigation.
In August 2011, the American Bar Association censured the school, but said that, in light of its aggressive investigation and steps taken by the school to see that it didn't happen again, the school would retain its accreditation. Among other things, the school hired the accounting and consulting firm of KPMG to analyze its procedures and to make recommendations for tighter controls on data.
It also hired former FBI director Louis Freeh to serve as an outside monitor for two years.
The AALS letter contained one new detail. It said the data falsification at Villanova was the work of four law school employees who were let go. One apparently was the former dean, Mark Sargent, who left the university in 2009 after he became embroiled in a Kennett Township prostitution investigation. Sargent had been a client of the prostitution ring and had been cooperating in the probe. The AALS said the data falsification at Villanova ended after Sargent's departure. Although Sargent's role had been known, the number of employees involved in the data falsification had not been disclosed.