The American Bar Association has completed an inquiry into the disputed graduation of nine students from Howard University Law School in 1986, but officials have refused to disclose the ABA's findings or turn over the report to the law school's former dean.
An ABA spokesman said its review of the dispute was made part of an accreditation report, which is given only to the university president and the current law school dean. Roger D. Estep, a Howard vice president, said the university will not release the report, which it received in the summer, although it is permitted to do so under ABA rules. "The report is confidential," Estep said.
Former law school dean John T. Baker, who clashed with university President James E. Cheek over whether the students were qualified to graduate, said the ABA has refused to give him its report. "It's basically unfair that they won't let me have it," said Baker, who teaches law at Indiana University. "I think I have a right to see what relates to my administration."
Eighteen months ago, the ABA Council on Legal Education and Admissions to the Bar began the inquiry into whether the university had violated ABA accreditation standards by granting degrees to the students. Cheek had allowed the students to graduate even though Baker and the faculty had denied them diplomas on the grounds they had not met all requirements. U.S. Appeals Court Judge Alfred T. Goodwin, a California jurist who headed the ABA panel, described the inquiry as aimed at determining whether ABA standards were "being properly observed and whether the quality of the degree is being damaged by the action." Last week, Frederick R. Franklin, staff director of the ABA council, said ABA reports are given only "to the present administration of a school. That's the policy."