Only adverse actions—denial or revocation of accreditation—may be appealed (see Accreditation Decisions Policy and Adverse Action Policy). Denial of accreditation occurs when an initial bid for accreditation is denied by the Accreditation Commission. Revocation occurs when the Accreditation Commission determines that an accredited provider no longer meets AAQEP’s standards, in the context of either an accreditation renewal decision, a staff-initiated review, or a complaint review (see Complaint Policy).
To appeal an adverse action, the provider must send AAQEP a written request for reconsideration of the decision along with documented grounds for the appeal. These documents must be sent from the institution’s president or provost or equivalent academic officer, via email or printed letter addressed to the AAQEP president, within 30 days of the date of official notice of denial or revocation.
Grounds for appeal are limited to the following:
- Failure on the part of the Accreditation Commission to consider or accurately interpret evidence that was available to the Quality Review Team at the time of the site visit showing that the provider met the AAQEP standards at the time of the review;
- Errors or omissions in prescribed procedures on the part of an AAQEP staff member, quality assurance reviewer, or accreditation commissioner that would result in an inaccurate accreditation decision; and/or
- Demonstrable bias, conflict of interest, or prejudice on the part of an AAQEP staff member, a quality assurance reviewer, or accreditation commissioner that would result in an inaccurate accreditation decision.
The AAQEP president contacts the AAQEP Board chair within 30 days of receipt of a provider’s appeal. The AAQEP Board chair then appoints within 15 days a five-member Appeals Panel to adjudicate appeals. The Appeals Panel will consist of current and former members of the Board of Directors and the Accreditation Commission and shall include one public member. No member of the Appeals Panel may participate in an appeal for a provider for which she or he has voted in an Accreditation Commission decision. Members of the Appeals Panel select a chair from among their number.
The AAQEP president then forwards the provider’s intent to appeal and its written grounds for appeal to the chair of the Panel within 30 days of the provider’s appeal. The Panel virtually convenes to determine whether the appeal has merit; the appeal is determined to have merit if the basis of the appeal meets this policy’s criteria stated above and documentation related to allowable grounds for appeal is provided.
If the Panel determines the appeal has merit, it considers the record that the AAQEP Accreditation Commission reviewed and produced at the time of its decision. This record includes the Quality Assurance Report, the Quality Review Team Report, and the Accreditation Action Report. Evidence not reviewed or considered by the Accreditation Commission at the time of its decision is not reviewed or considered by the Panel. Furthermore, the Panel cannot take into account evidence of corrective action that occurred after the date of the site visit.
An appeal hearing is held within 60 days of the filing of the provider’s appeal. It is conducted virtually and allots time for the provider to make a verbal statement, be represented by legal counsel if desired, and respond to the Appeals Panel’s questions. At the conclusion of the hearing, the Appeals Panel meets in closed session to deliberate on the merits of the provider’s appeal. The Appeals Panel then issues a written report of the panel’s findings, to include one of the following recommendations:
- Affirm the Accreditation Commission’s decision and uphold the adverse action.
- Direct a new site visit to be completed and Quality Review Team Report to be submitted for consideration by the Accreditation Commission at its earliest convenience; that site visit may be limited in focus as directed by the Commission. The provider is responsible for all costs associated with this visit.
- Reverse the Accreditation Commission’s decision, citing specific grounds for the appeal that were upheld based upon the evidence submitted.
The Appeals Panel report is sent to the AAQEP president and Board chair. At the next regularly scheduled Accreditation Commission meeting, the Commission acts to affirm the Appeals Panel’s recommendation.
The AAQEP president sends copies of the Panel’s report to the provider’s representative within 15 days of the Commission’s meeting. The provider is notified of the Commission’s action in keeping with the Accreditation Decisions Policy.
Any costs incurred by the program seeking an appeal shall be the program’s sole responsibility.