D.C. City Council member Hilda Mason (Statehood-At Large) has introduced a bill designed to rescue Antioch Law School by turning it into an independent public institution financed by the District government.
Mason said two other members of the 13-member council, Frank Smith (D-Ward 1) and Wilhelmina Rolark (D-Ward 8), have agreed to cosponsor the measure.
"I think everybody admits that Antioch has made quite a contribution to the residents of the District of Columbia," Mason said yesterday, "and I would hate to see that die out." She added that D.C. residents ought to have a law school with low tuition.
On May 29 the trustees of the University of the District of Columbia rejected a proposed takeover of Antioch Law School, saying the cost was too high. UDC officials estimated that the school would require about $7 million in city funds for the first 15 months after a takeover and about $7 million to $8 million for permanent new facilities.
Yesterday, Mason said she thought these cost projections were too high, but that she had not developed alternative estimates.
The innovative 14-year-old school at 2633 16th St. NW operates as a public-interest law firm with students required to handle cases for low-income clients.
But the American Bar Association has threatened to remove the school's accreditation, and its parent institution, Antioch University of Yellow Springs, Ohio, said it can no longer afford to support it. After the UDC trustees' vote, Antioch officials said the school would admit no first-year students this fall and would be phased out by 1988. The school had 362 students this past year.
Yesterday, Mason said she would probably move her bill as emergency legislation on Tuesday to speed city funding and ABA approval of the takeover.
Thomas J. Mack, Antioch's interim dean, said last night the school would cooperate with Mason's efforts. "I think it's great," he said. "I'm working on the cost figures tonight."