A retired Orange County judge is suing Western State University College of Law, contending that the for-profit law school did not renew his teaching contract because he criticized the institution for admitting too many unqualified students.
Retired Municipal Court Judge Russell A. Bostrom charged in the lawsuit that he was wrongfully terminated “for exercising academic freedom” of expression.
The suit seeks more than $50,000 in personal damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.
Bostrom said he had criticized Western State for admitting students whose entrance test scores showed they had little aptitude for the law.
Western State President John C. Monks said Wednesday that “the suit is totally unfounded” and that Bostrom was not retained on the faculty because he “did not meet our standards in teaching.”
Western State has about 2,600 students at its campuses in Fullerton, Irvine and San Diego. It is the only accredited law school in Orange County. Its full-time study program takes three years to complete and four years part time.
Bostrom taught for two years before he was dismissed, effective this summer.
Monks said Wednesday that he had informed Bostrom in February that his teaching contract would not be renewed and that during the discussion, Bostrom never mentioned the admissions policy.
“To the best of my knowledge, I’ve never heard him say anything about our admissions policy or express any interest in it,” Monks said. “I think this whole thing is bogus.”
Bostrom was out of the county on Wednesday and could not be reached for comment.
However, his lawsuit, filed Monday in Orange County Superior Court, says that he had “grave concerns about the integrity” of Western State University as an educational institution enjoying both State Bar and Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges accreditation.
According to the suit, Bostrom believed Western State was admitting excessive numbers of students who did not possess undergraduate college degrees or who had scored low on the Law School Aptitude Test.
Monks, however, said Wednesday: “I think our admission standards are consistent with our mission, and that mission is to include non-traditional students when we believe they have a reasonable chance.”
Monks said that unlike major law schools such as at UCLA, Western State has an older student body, with many students seeking a career change. “Our student median age is about 35,” Monks said. “We don’t have an elitist acceptance policy.”