July 22, 2008

Faculty Contracts Not Renewed

By Bill Bartleman, The Paducah Sun, Ky.

Jul. 22--The Barkley School of Law has not renewed contracts for any of its 15 faculty members and school officials aren't sure if classes will be held in the fall, according to school spokesman Ray Lane.

However, Lane said changes are being made to put the school on a firm foundation that will ensure its long-term future. The former resource center in the Information Age Park is being renovated into an efficient classroom building and planning is under way to build a 26,000-square-foot library next to the classroom building. It will cost about $5 million.

All of the changes are necessary for the school to receive accreditation from the American Bar Association, Lane said. Accreditation is required for graduates of the school to take bar examinations in 49 of the 50 states. Only California allows graduates of non-accredited schools to take the bar examinations.

Lane also said the changes are being made to prepare for an inspection by the Kentucky Council on Postsecondary Education to receive a license from the state. That inspection is expected in September, Lane said.

Lane said 20 students are taking summer classes that are being held in the existing library in a renovated warehouse on Joe Clifton Drive.

If the renovation of the resource center is completed within the next two months, Lane said new faculty will be hired and classes will be held in the fall. If the renovation isn't completed, classes aren't expected to resume until next year.

The Barkley School of Law was founded four years ago as the American Justice School of Law. However, financial and other problems resulted in a change in ownership earlier this year. The new owners include Dr. Laxmaiah Manchikanti in Paducah and attorney Tom Osborne.

"From the beginning we wanted to cut ties with the previous school and build a law school that students, administration and our community would be proud of," Manchikanti said.

He said the changes began with the hiring of Dr. Larry O. Putt as the new dean. He said Putt has been given full authority to run the school and made the decision not to renew contracts of faculty members. The decision was made for financial reasons and to prepare for a fresh start once the renovations are completed, Lane said.

The school has refunded more than $250,000 in tuition fees to former students of the American Justice School of Law.

Bill Bartleman can be contacted at 575-8651.



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