Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

August 27, 2013

Mediation begins in Mountain St. student lawsuits


Associated Press

MARTINSBURG — Attempts to settle several hundred lawsuits filed against Mountain State University are continuing in Charleston.

Former students packed an auditorium at the Civic Center on Monday. It was the only day plaintiffs were required to attend the three-day mediation.

The students sued after the school closed its doors because it lost accreditation. Their lawsuits allege that school officials were deceptive about the problems the school was facing.

The Higher Learning Commission revoked the school’s primary accreditation in June 2012 after years of failing to correct major problems in leadership, program evaluations and campuswide governance.

In December, the commission denied Mountain State’s bid to regain its accreditation.

According to the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, Mountain State University is the first higher education institution in West Virginia history to have its school-wide accreditation revoked.

When a university loses its primary accreditation, any subsequent degrees conferred by the university are effectively worthless.

The University of Charleston took over Mountain State’s campuses in Beckley and Martinsburg so students could complete their degrees.

The Charleston Gazette reports that McDowell County Circuit Judge Booker Stephens is presiding over the mass litigation panel.

The cases before the panel include those filed over the university’s “loss of general accreditation, special accreditations in its nursing and nurse anesthetist programs, and any other educational programs that require independent accreditation.”