Complaint Review Policy

The Executive Board’s Complaint Review Committee reviews all complaints regarding NCATE’s policies and procedures and, as complaints relate to the mission, policies and procedures of NCATE, all complaints regarding the policies, procedures and conduct of institutions that NCATE accredits. Complaints may fall within one of two general categories: complaints relating to an institution or education unit and complaints relating to NCATE itself. Because NCATE’s mission is accreditation, complaints in either category must pertain to one or both of the following: (i) noncompliance by an accredited institution with NCATE’s policies, procedures and standards or (ii) NCATE’s own actions. NCATE’s complaint procedure does not exist to resolve grievances against an institution not related to NCATE’s accreditation process or not related to the application of or adherence to NCATE’s policies, procedures and standards. Nor is the complaint procedure a substitute for or alternative to appeals for institutions that are denied accreditation or that have their accreditation conditioned or revoked, or internal review procedures by member organizations and other parties. Institutions contesting accreditation procedures and decisions may seek review only through the appeal process set forth in NCATE’s Appeals Policies and Procedures.

When a complaint raises an issue relating to an accredited institution or education unit that is within the subject areas, and not excluded, as described above, the Complaint Review Committee may recommend to the Unit Accreditation Board that the Board conduct an investigation. The Unit Accreditation Board may determine that grounds exist for reexamining the accreditation of an institution’s professional education unit.

Procedure for Filing a General Complaint

With respect to complaints relating to an institution, NCATE will acknowledge and review all information NCATE receives alleging noncompliance by an accredited institution with NCATE’s policies, procedures and standards. NCATE will give particular consideration to allegations that an accredited professional education unit is not in compliance with NCATE standards if the alleged violations appear to jeopardize the quality of the institution’s professional education programs or the general welfare of the professional education unit. With respect to complaints relating to NCATE itself, NCATE similarly will acknowledge and review all information but will give particular attention to allegations that NCATE’s policies, procedures, standards or actions are contrary to NCATE’s mission as an accrediting agency.

NCATE will process both types of complaints in accordance with the procedures that follow:

1. Complaints relating to a particular Institution

A. Establishing a Complaint Relating to a Particular Institution

Complaints must be in writing addressed to the NCATE office. NCATE staff will acknowledge receipt of a complaint within 10 days and will accompany the acknowledgment with a copy of NCATE’s complaint review policy. The written complaint must contain, or must be supplemented with, the following:

  1. A statement of facts and circumstances showing, with reasonable particularity, (i) noncompliance by an accredited institution with NCATE’s policies, procedures or standards or (ii) actions or inactions by an accredited institution otherwise jeopardizing its accreditation;

  2. A reference to the particular policies, procedures or standards at issue in the complaint;

  3. Identity of the complaining party and relationship to the education unit in question;

  4. Facts and circumstances showing that the complaint is not an individual grievance unrelated to NCATE’s mission as an accrediting agency;

  5. A statement of the actions, if any, of the unit or institution to address the matters giving rise to the complaint.

If the President of NCATE determines that the complaint satisfies these five criteria, the complaint is deemed established for further consideration. If the President determines that the complaint does not satisfy these criteria, the complaint is deemed dismissed. NCATE will notify the complainant of the President’s decision to proceed with or to dismiss the complaint within 15 days of NCATE’s receipt of a complete complaint. If the complaint is deemed established, the President will refer the complaint to the Executive Board’s Complaint Review Committee and will provide the subject institution and/or unit the particulars of the complaint and a copy of the complaint review procedure.

B. Investigation of a Complaint Against an Institution or Education Unit

Following the determination that a complaint against an institution or education unit is established, the Complaint Review Committee will investigate the complaint in the following manner:

  1. The Complaint Review Committee will require the institution against which the complaint is directed to provide a detailed response, with such supporting material as the institution deems warranted, within a time limit that the Complaint Review Committee sets.

  2. Based on the institution’s response, the Complaint Review Committee may seek additional information or a reply from the complaining party, as the Complaint Review Committee deems warranted.

  3. Based on the institution’s response and any reply or further information from the complaining party, the Complaint Review Committee may seek additional information from the institution or from other sources, may conduct further investigation and/or may authorize a Board of Examiners visit, all as and when the Complaint Review Committee deems warranted.

  4. If the Complaint Review Committee determines that a Board of Examiners visit is warranted, the Complaint Review Committee will inform the staff of the matters that the Complaint Review Committee deems necessary for investigation and will direct staff to send a team of visitors to the institution to undertake such investigation. The staff shall report the results of its investigation to the Complaint Review Committee and to the Unit Accreditation Board at the next meeting of each.

  5. Based on the foregoing, the Complaint Review Committee shall make a final determination on the complaint and, promptly following such determination, shall notify both the complainant and the institution of such determination.

  6. In the event that the Complaint Review Committee authorizes an investigation and the staff reports the results of the investigation to the Unit Accreditation Board, the Unit Accreditation Board may take such actions as it deems appropriate notwithstanding anything in this Complaint Review Policy to the contrary. In the event that, as a result of the investigation, the Unit Accreditation Board revokes accreditation, places the institution on probation or otherwise conditions accreditation, the subject institution shall have the rights set forth in NCATE’s Appeals Policies and Procedures, which shall govern further proceedings following the Unit Accreditation Board’s decision.

C. Ordinary Complaint Timetable for a Complaint Against an Institution

Day 1: NCATE receives a formal complaint.

By Day 15: President determines whether or not a complaint is established. If deemed established, President forwards complaint to the Complaint Review Committee and notifies the subject institution and the complainant of such action.

By Day 75: NCATE has requested and received a response from the institution.

By Day 105: The Complaint Review Committee has determined that (i) the complaint is without merit or has been resolved, or (ii) the complaint warrants further investigation, which may consist of requests for additional information from the institution and other sources and authorization of a Board of Examiners visit. The Complaint Review Committee shall notify the institution of the Complaint Review Committee’s action. As promptly as is reasonable thereafter, the Complaint Review Committee will conclude its consideration of the complaint and make a final determination.

By Day 365: If the matter is investigated by a team visit, the Unit Accreditation Board will conclude its consideration of the matter and take final action. Also by Day 365, the Complaint Review Committee will complete its consideration and take final action.

NCATE will use its best efforts to meet this timetable, but NCATE may extend or otherwise alter this timetable should circumstances require NCATE to do so

.2. Complaints Against NCATE

A. Establishing a Complaint Against NCATE

Complaints must be in writing addressed to the NCATE office. NCATE staff will acknowledge receipt of a complaint within 10 days and will accompany the acknowledgment with a copy of NCATE’s complaint review policy. The written complaint must contain, or must be supplemented with, the following:

  1. A statement of facts and circumstances showing, with reasonable particularity, (i) the inappropriate or wrongful content or application of NCATE’s policies, procedures or standards or (ii) inappropriate or wrongful action or inaction by NCATE, provided that neither of these grounds shall be a substitute for or alternative to the appeal procedures with respect to decisions affecting accreditation, in which instances the appeal procedures shall be exclusive;

  2. A reference to the particular policies, procedures or standards at issue in the complaint;

  3. Identity of the complaining party and relationship to NCATE or to an institution within NCATE’s accrediting jurisdiction;

  4. Facts and circumstances showing that the complaint is not an individual grievance unrelated to NCATE’s mission as an accrediting agency;

  5. A statement of the actions, if any, of NCATE to address the matters giving rise to the complaint.

If the president of NCATE determines that the complaint satisfies these five criteria, the complaint is deemed established for further consideration. If the President determines that the complaint does not satisfy these criteria, the complaint is deemed dismissed. NCATE will notify the complainant of the President’s decision to proceed with or to dismiss the complaint within 15 days of NCATE’s receipt of a complete complaint. If the complaint is deemed established, the President will refer the complaint to the Executive Board’s Complaint Review Committee. In the event that the President is the subject of or a material witness with respect to the matters contained in the complaint, the Executive Board shall appoint a person to perform the President’s responsibilities under this paragraph. No person who is the subject of or a material witness with respect to the matters contained in the complaint shall perform the responsibilities of the President under this paragraph.

B. Investigation of a Complaint Against NCATE

Following the determination that a complaint against NCATE itself is established, the Complaint Review Committee will investigate the complaint in the following manner:

  1. The Complaint Review Committee will require such NCATE officers, board and board members, committees and committee members and employees, as the Committee determines, to provide a detailed response, with such supporting material as the responding party and/or the Complaint Review Committee deems warranted, within a time limit that the Complaint Review Committee sets.

  2. Based on the responses, the Complaint Review Committee may seek additional information or a reply from the complaining party, as the Complaint Review Committee deems warranted.

  3. Based on the responses and any reply or further information, if any is requested, from the complaining party, the Complaint Review Committee may seek additional information from NCATE or from other sources and may conduct further investigation, all as and when the Complaint Review Committee deems warranted.

  4. Based on the foregoing, the Complaint Review Committee shall make a final determination on the complaint and, promptly following such determination, shall notify both the complainant and the NCATE Executive Board of such determination. The Executive Board shall direct such remedial action as the Executive Board, in its discretion, may determine.

C. Ordinary Complaint Timetable For a Complaint Against NCATE

Day 1: NCATE receives a formal complaint.

By Day 15: President determines whether or not a complaint is established. If deemed established, President forwards complaint to the Complaint Review Committee and notifies the subject institution and the complainant of such action.

By Day 75: The Complaint Review Committee has requested and received responses from such NCATE officers, board and board members, committees and committee members and employees, as the Committee determines.

By Day 105: The Complaint Review Committee will conclude its consideration of the complaint and make a final determination.

NCATE will use its best efforts to meet this timetable, but NCATE may extend or otherwise alter this timetable should circumstances require NCATE to do so.

Other Important Considerations

The institution and/or education unit that is the subject of the complaint must provide the Complaint Review Committee, the Board of Examiners investigation team and the Unit Accreditation Board access to all information that they deem pertinent to the complaint. An institution’s or unit’s failure to provide information deemed necessary by the Complaint Review Committee, the Board of Examiners investigation team or the Unit Accreditation Board, or an institution’s or unit’s failure to provide information required for accreditation, may be grounds for immediate revocation of accreditation or other adverse action affecting accreditation.

Complaints found to have validity shall become part of the institution’s accreditation file. Complaints dismissed as lacking merit shall not be part of the institution’s accreditation file.

Regardless of the presence or establishment of a complaint, NCATE always maintains the right to request that an institution be reevaluated whenever NCATE deems that there is good cause to warrant such reevaluation. NCATE also takes very seriously its complaint-review responsibilities where a complaint is lodged against NCATE. All NCATE-affiliated persons must provide the Complaint Review Committee access to all information that the Committee deems pertinent to the complaint. NCATE-affiliated persons failing to respond to or otherwise improperly resisting Committee requests may be subject to disciplinary action, including dismissal.

See also:

Complaint Review Committee


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