Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Former Villanova law dean suspended for inflating scores to boost US News ranking

In re Mark Allen Sargent, Supreme Judicial Court, Massachusetts
The respondent was admitted to the Massachusetts bar on December 12, 1978. From 1997 to 2009, the respondent was the Dean of Villanova University School of Law. Each year from 2002 to 2009, the respondent submitted to the American Bar Association Council of the section of Legal Admissions to the Bar and to the Association of American Law Schools LSAT scores and GPAs for Villanova’s entering class of students that he certified as true and accurate. He directed that this same information be posted on the Law School’s webpage and that it be provided to U.S. News and World Report knowing that U.S. News and World Report would use these scores to prepare its widely read and highly influential annual ranking of law schools'
In fact, the respondent knew that the scores were inflated because he directed in each of these years that certain low-scoring students be excluded from the computation of median and percentile LSAT scores and GPAs. The effect was to elevate Villanova’s rank among law schools evaluated by U. S. News & World Report. The respondent’s conduct in directing and overseeing the creation of inflated LSAT scores and GPAs of Villanova’s entering class of students; in certifying the accuracy of data he knew in fact to be false; and in disseminating that data to the ABA, to the AALS, to U.S. News and World Report and to the public at large, violated Mass. R. Prof. C. 8.4(c) and (h). 
On June 3, 2013, the Board of Bar Overseers voted to accept the parties’ stipulation and recommendation for discipline. On June 17, 2013, the board filed an information and the record of proceedings with the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County. On June 20, 2013, the Supreme Judicial Court for Suffolk County (Spina, J.) ordered that the respondent be suspended from the practice of law for three years, effective thirty days after the entry date of the court’s order. 

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