A majority of the D.C. City Council has urged that Antioch Law School become part of the University of the District of Columbia as a way to solve the law school's financial and accreditation problems.
In letters presented Sunday to an American Bar Association panel, eight City Council members said they endorsed "the underlying concept" of transferring the innovative 13-year-old school to UDC.
The council members said they would support "the necessary financial outlay" to acquire and operate the school, but Council Chairman David A. Clarke, who took the letters to a meeting in San Diego of the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar, said he was uncertain what the costs might be.
John Britton, a spokesman for UDC, said the university trustees have asked acting President Claude Ford to make an "administrative review" of the proposal but added that there are "no commitments whatsoever" to making the law school part of UDC.
Antioch officials have said they held "very preliminary" negotiations with UDC early last summer, but that contact stopped during the controversy surrounding then-UDC President Robert L. Greene, who was forced to resign in September.
The law school at 2633 16th St. NW has been troubled for years by inadequate financing and facilities and recently has been beset by declining enrollment and threats to its accreditation by the ABA. The ABA accreditation committee has recommended that Antioch be dropped from the list of approved law schools after an inspection report said its academic program was of "limited rigor" and its facilities and finances were deficient.
ABA accreditation is required for law school graduates to take the bar examination in most states and the District.
The ABA council took up the issue in San Diego on Sunday but has not yet announced its decision.
If the council approves the committee recommendation, it will be considered in mid-February by the ABA House of Delegates, which has final authority to grant or withdraw accreditation.
In October Antioch University trustees voted to end financial support for the law school, saying they wished to concentrate their limited resources on rebuilding the college's main campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
Law school supporters, led by consumer advocate Ralph Nader, then launched a $2.5 million drive to pay for the renovation of the vacant Perry Elementary School at First and M streets NW, which the District government has offered to let the law school lease for 20 years.
Last week D.C. Deputy Mayor Curtis McClinton authorized a $750,000 low-interest loan for the renovation from federal community development block grant funds.
But he said Antioch would have to raise the rest of the money by Feb. 15.
Law school dean Isaac Hunt has raised $170,000 in pledges. Hunt said he thought merging the law school with UDC would be "very beneficial to both institutions."