Dear Dr. NAACLS,
I am a program director of a NAACLS accredited program, and I keep a close eye on current events that are related to education. I have heard a lot lately about legal actions that unsatisfied students are taking against the schools they are attending.
What were to happen if a student at our accredited program was unhappy and filed a complaint with NAACLS against us? Would we be given the chance to defend ourselves against any claims?
Mr. Notnervous Maybealittle
Dear Mr. Maybealittle,
In the “Students” section of the NAACLS website, NAACLS details the process for student appeals and complaints, and the process is the same for when complaints are received from faculty or administrators. First, the complainant must show reasonable proof that he/she has followed the sponsor’s due process procedures. NAACLS will not investigate any complaints if the complainant has not already tried to handle the situation under established procedures at the sponsor. This proof also allows NAACLS to gain assurance that the complaint is from someone that is somehow involved with the program – anonymous complaints with no names, email addresses, or phone numbers could be turned in by anyone seeking to harm the program and are not investigated by NAACLS.
After exhausting the sponsor’s due process procedures, if the complainant remains unsatisfied with the outcome – or believes that the program’s actions are in noncompliance with NAACLS Standards – then the complainant may forward his/her complaint to the NAACLS office. The office then forwards the complaint to the appropriate review committee chair, who decides whether an investigation should be pursued.
Should the complaint be pursued, the program is indeed contacted to respond to the possible non-compliances with NAACLS Standards. If the response is adequate, then any investigation stops there. But if the response is not adequate, the investigation continues on through further review via site visit or progress report documentation. Any final decision on possible actions is made through deliberations of the review committees and Board of Directors, which may include a probationary accreditation/approval period. Should the program remain in noncompliance at the next review after probation is awarded, the Board of Directors can vote to withdraw accreditation/approval from the program.