David Harpool

Dr. David Harpool is renowned in the field of higher education, especially in the area of distance and extended learning models. He has over 22 years experience in public and private school settings having served as an officer, and on the Board of Trustees of several colleges and educational institutions. His practice centers on accreditation, operations, regulatory, compliance and employment issues faced by colleges, universities and related businesses. He has counseled higher education institutions of all sizes and types on issues with the U.S. Department of Education, various state higher education coordinating boards and regional, national and programmatic accrediting agencies. He has served as peer evaluator and accreditation team member for multiple accrediting agencies. Additionally, he frequently provides related legal commentary on NBC television, CNN and CBS radio.

Previously he served as Chief Operating Officer of Academics, Kaplan University, one of the country's most respected and largest online, non-traditional colleges, gaining hands-on experience in managing the legal needs of educational institutions. He represents more than a dozen clients that range in revenue from $1 million to $1 billion and provides a variety of complex legal assistance including:

  • Expertise in distance and extended learning models
  • Counseling clients in transition and creation of non-profit, for-profit and hybrid models
  • Comprehensive regulatory compliance programs including robust campus audits
  • Program analysis ensuring clients offer the best academic programs most likely to meet student expectations and regulatory standards
  • Conflict of Interest and other Board of Trustees issues
  • Director training
  • Compliance and complex personnel negotiations including the hiring and termination of college and university presidents.

Practice Areas

Representative Engagements

  • Successful completion of five plus programmatic accreditations
  • Successfully representation of nine regional and national accreditations

He has provided counseling to the following clients:

  • Pinnacle Career College- Developed a robust compliance function
  • Webster University, accreditation and Board of Trustee training on Conflicts of Interest
  • Quest Academy and affiliates of Broomfield, Colorado- Tax regulatory relief for 501 (c) (3)
  • Alta Colleges (including Westwood and Redstone Colleges)- Accreditation and online regulatory guidance
  • Kaplan Higher Education including Kaplan University- Accreditation, employment, labor and online regulatory
  • American College Learning Group, Chicago, Online operations and 3rd party contract negotiation
  • Ellis University of Chicago, Accreditation, institutional charter, bylaws and Title IV application, conversion in corporate status
  • International Accounting Standards Training Group, London, acquisition negotiation


  • B.S. - Education, Missouri State University, cum laude, 1983
  • J.D. - University of Missouri- Columbia, 1989
  • PhD - Higher Education, Saint Louis University, 1991 with Distinction

Admissions/Court Memberships

  • State of Missouri
  • State of Illinois


  • Nationally awarded college debater and debate coach

Professional Affiliations

  • Dr. Harpool is active in his community youth sports and his church