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"At this time," the handbook says in part, "the college has submitted a pre-application; the initial step towards full accreditation to ACPE. Subsequently, a site visit to the campus by ACPE will be made sometime in early spring of 2004."
Nowhere does the handbook explicitly state that the school is not accredited.
A spokesman for the college declined to comment on the language in the handbook.
"We just received the complaint two days ago and are examining the allegations," he said. "We continue to believe the school was honest in its dealings with the students and has not violated any state laws."
Accreditation is important because graduates of unaccredited schools cannot get pharmacy licenses in Hawaii and other states.
The lawsuits capped a bumpy year for the start-up Kapolei school, which students paid $28,000 to attend. The school opened last fall with 240 students and just a handful of faculty.
During the year, several faculty left and the ACPE asked the school to withdraw its application for accreditation.
Tensions mounted earlier this month after Hasan announced the school would hold back more than half of its first-year class, regardless of whether the students passed their courses, in order to appease the ACPE.
Speaking generally, and not about the pharmacy college, Levins said the prohibition against schools stating they were seeking accreditation was meant to prevent schools from creating unrealistic expectations for prospective students.
Simply applying for accreditation means little, Levins said, but could make people think otherwise.
"There was a recognition that the statement in and of itself could mislead students," he said.
Michael O'Connor, an attorney for pharmacy student Robert Killian, said the alleged violations of Hawaii's law on unaccredited schools were not the overriding issue. At some point, he said, most students knew the school was not accredited.
However, O'Connor said, some students went to the college because they "were told the school was doing everything in its power to become accredited."
Actually, O'Connor said, the school "never was moving in the right direction" toward accreditation.
"They hadn't even gotten out of the starting blocks," Levins said.