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Baltimore International reaches settlement

Culinary school to continue operating until takeover

Childs Walker, The Baltimore Sun

7:47 PM EDT, September 9, 2011

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Baltimore International College has reached a legal settlement that will allow it to remain accredited until the end of the year, when officials expect the downtown culinary college to be taken over by Virginia-based Stratford University.

Baltimore International College has reached a legal settlement that will allow it to remain accredited until the end of the year, when officials expect the downtown culinary school to be taken over by Virginia-based Stratford University.

The settlement ended a court battle between Baltimore International and the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, which planned to strip the college of its accreditation at the end of August — a move that could have forced the school to close. A federal judge granted the college a temporary restraining order to prevent that action, writing that Middle States had not followed its own appeals procedure.

U.S. District Judge Marvin J. Garbis signed off on the settlement agreement Thursday.

According to the agreement, the college must make good-faith efforts to follow the commission's policies and procedures, and the two sides will have to agree on a plan to help the remaining students either graduate or continue their educations elsewhere. The college also will limit its enrollment to 182 students and not add any new courses for the fall semester.

The college will submit monthly reports to Middle States, and the commission can revisit the accreditation issue in court if the college fails to live up to the agreement's terms.

Officials from the college and Middle States agreed to let the settlement speak for itself, said Charles Nabit, the chairman of Baltimore International's board.

"We came to an amicable resolution," Nabit said. "I'm very pleased that this allows us to focus on the important things, which are the needs of our students."

If the college had lost accreditation, it would likely have stopped operating because of a loss of federal financial aid revenues. The legal standoff created new uncertainty for students, who had spent much of the summer wondering about the college's future only to have their hopes raised by the announcement of the Stratford takeover.

Middle States announced in June that Baltimore International would lose its accreditation Aug. 31 because of flaws in the way the college designed its curriculum and measured student performance. But college officials thought they could buy time by filing an appeal while Stratford moved toward its planned Jan. 1 takeover.

Middle States dismissed the appeal in an Aug. 24 letter, saying that the college's plan to forestall its loss of accreditation was a disservice to students.

Now, college officials and students are awaiting approval of Stratford's takeover plan from the Maryland Higher Education Commission and the Accrediting Council for Independent Schools and Colleges.

childs.walker@baltsun.com

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