The American Bar Association has delayed at least until next summer its final decision on withdrawing accreditation from Antioch Law School.
But Antioch University President Alan E. Guskin, who disclosed the ABA move yesterday, said the school would have to make firm arrangements by February for adequate facilities and financing in order to admit a new class next fall.
"The ABA has given the law school more time to reach its goals," said Guskin, referring to a fund-raising drive for $2.5 million. "The issue for me is having the resources to run a quality law school. Right now you can't predict which way it's going to come out. But I'm more optimistic than I was a month and a half ago."
In a letter received by Antioch yesterday, the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar said it has asked the ABA accreditation committee to reconsider its recommendation that Antioch's accreditation be dropped because of "deficiencies" in academic standards, facilities and finances.
The council said the committee should "specifically comment" on the compliance plan, responding to the panel's criticisms, that Antioch submitted in late September.
The 18-member council, which met last weekend in San Diego, declined to place the Antioch issue on the agenda for the mid-February meeting of the ABA House of Delegates, the body that has final authority to grant or withdraw accreditation.
Frederick R. Franklin, the council's staff director, said this means that the House of Delegates will not be able to take up the issue until its next meeting in August, effectively delaying any final ABA action until then.
"I think it's a major victory for us." said Antioch Law Dean Isaac C. Hunt Jr. "We will get another chance to make further progress on fund raising and maybe move ahead with discussions with UDC."
Hunt has proposed that the school, at 2633 16th St. NW, be merged with the University of the District of Columbia.
That proposal has been endorsed by a majority of the City Council but is still under study by UDC administrators and trustees.
The innovative 13-year-old-law school has 362 students.
In October, the Antioch University trustees authorized Guskin to take steps to close the school unless it obtains major new backing soon. The trustees said they wanted to concentrate their resources on the college's main campus in Yellow Springs, Ohio.
The ABA accreditation committee is scheduled to consider Antioch at its Jan. 17-19 meeting and then report to the Council on Legal Education on Feb. 8.
Guskin said the Antioch trustees will meet again Feb. 14 and 15.
"I want to be able to wrap it up one way or the other before then," Guskin said.
"We can't admit a class until this whole business is resolved . . . . And we have to raise the funds and have the new facilities before I can make a positive decision," he said.
The District government has agreed to lease the old Perry Elementary School at First and M streets NW to Antioch for 20 years and provide a $750,000 low-interest loan. But the school must raise the remainder of the $2.5 million needed for renovations.