National Loses Appeal Regarding CCE Accreditation Trouble

News Staff
National Loses Appeal Regarding CCE Accreditation Trouble

Council Provided Opportunity to Preserve Accreditation Through Probation Instead of Revoking Accreditation

In a February 2, 2018 letter to National University of Health Sciences (NUHS) President Joseph Steifel DC, Elizabeth Goulard Ed.D Council on Chiropractic Education Chair stated:

"In accordance with the CCE Accreditation Standards, Section 1.V, Non-Compliance Actions, when the Council determines that a DCP is not in compliance with CCE Accreditation Standards, including eligibility and accreditation requirements, and policies and related procedures, the Council may apply any of the following actions; Warning, Probation, Show Cause Order or Denial/Revocation. The Council has concluded that the DCP is in significant noncompliance with accreditation standards or policy requirements and determined the noncompliance compromises program integrity and hereby imposes a sanction of Probation upon NUHS."

NUHS two chiropractic programs were placed on Probation by the Council on Chiropractic Education (CCE) on February 2, 2018 and according to the public disclosure from the CCE, the Council took this action

“. . . due to noncompliance concerns related to program effectiveness, meta- competency assessment and student performance success rates.”

NUHS had previously been placed on NOTICE by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) its Regional accreditor because of concerns related to quality of educational programs, assessment of student learning, and institutional planning.

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NUHS appealed the CCE's decision to place the institution on Probation. NUHS appeal was based on their opinion that the Council erred in its February 2, 2018 imposition of the sanction of Probation in the following manner:

1. Council did not follow its own standards, policies and procedures when it reaffirmed NUHS’s accreditation and found NUHS to be in significant noncompliance to a level compromising program integrity.
2. Council failed to meet due process requirements
3. Council applied Policy 56 of the CCE Policies in a discriminatory, arbitrary and unreasonable manner.
4. Council based its adverse action in part on its arbitrary and capricious decision of noncompliance with Policy 56, which is an unfair procedure.
5. Probation sanction materially hinders NUHS’s corrective improvements.

NUHS argued to the Appeals Panel that

  • The harm that will result from an affirmation of an illegitimate decision arising from a violation of due process cannot be undone.
  • NUHS will lose prospective/current students to other DCPs
  • Lower enrollment will reduce NUHS’s revenue and, in turn, decrease resources available to continue to implement the improvements to its data capturing and analysis
  • Value of graduates’ degrees will be adversely impacted
  • Current students will be financially harmed
  • NUHS’s reputation will be adversely effected by suggesting to third parties NUHS provides a poor education—when CCE reaffirmed accreditation and graduation success rates are high

NUHS concluded their Appeal presentation stating that by imposing a sanction of Probation, the Council is substantially and materially hindering NUHS’s ability to correct areas of concern within the permissible timeframes set forth in Standards and imposing the unnecessary punitive effect of diverting and reducing NUHS’s resources and revenue.

The Appeals Panel responded by reminding NUHS that "Accreditation is a privilege, not a right. And any action may be applied in any order, at any time, if the Council determines that DCP conditions warrant them."

Further, the Appeals Panel noted that "Revocation of accreditaiton was available to the Council at the time of the decision. However, the Council did not revoke NUHS's accreditation status. Instead, through probation, the Council provided the opportunity for NUHS to preserve accreditation and come into compliance with the CCE Standards."

Noting that NUHS "noncompliance was significant" and that it was impacting the chiropractic program. The Panel also stated that there was "reasonable doubt as to whether compliance would be achieved within the permissable timeframe."

The Appeals Panel stated that the record of self study, the site team report and NUHS' responses ". . . provide evidence of the deficiencies that warranted the Council's action." The sanction of Warning was "not appropriate because the Council determined that there was significant noncompliance" with Standards.

The Panel noted that the Council had given NUHS two opportunities to respond to the site team visit report and provide evidence that the deficiencies had been corrected.

In the end, the Appeals Panel upheld the Council's decision on Probation stating:

In summary, the combination of the three areas of noncompliance present evidence for the determination that the program is in significant noncompliance with accreditation standards or policy requirements and that this level of noncompliance compromises program integrity.

McCoy Press