Commission Review Process for Institutions on Sanction

Institutions that are placed on Warning, Probation, or Show Cause, or for which applications for Candidacy or accreditation are denied, may request a review of this decision according to the following procedures. These review procedures are designed as a continuation of the accreditation peer review process and are therefore considered to be non-adversarial.

1. When the Commission takes any of the actions listed above, its President will notify the given institution of the decision by a method requiring a signature, within approximately 14 calendar days of the Commission’s decision. Said notification shall contain a succinct statement of the reasons for the Commission’s decision.

2.  If the institution desires a review of the Commission action, it shall file with the President a request for a review under the policies and procedures of the Commission. This request is to be submitted by the chief executive officer of the institution and co-signed by the chair of the governing board. Requests for review by an institution in a multi-college system shall also be signed by the chief executive officer of the system. The request for review must be received by a method requiring a signature, within 28 calendar days of the date of the mailing of the Commission’s notification of its decision to the institution. The fee for the review process shall accompany the request. 

3.  Within 21 calendar days after the date of its request for review, the institution, through its chief executive officer, must submit a written statement of the specific reasons why, in the institution’s opinion, a review of the Commission’s decision is warranted. This written statement shall respond only to the Commission’s statement of reasons for the Commission’s decision and to the evidence that was before the Commission at the time of its decision. In so doing, the institution shall identify the basis for its request for review in one or more of the following areas: (1) there were errors or omissions in carrying out prescribed procedures on the part of the evaluation team and/or the Commission which materially affected the Commission’s decision; (2) there was demonstrable bias or prejudice on the part of one or more members of the evaluation team or Commission which materially affected the Commission’s decision; (3) the evidence before the Commission prior to and on the date when it made the decision that is being questioned was materially in error; or (4) the decision of the Commission was not supported by substantial evidence.

The institution may not introduce evidence that was not received by the Commission at the time it made the decision under review.It is the responsibility of the institution to identify in the statement of reasons what specific information was not considered, or was improperly considered, by the visiting team or the Commission and to demonstrate that such acts or omissions were a material factor in the negative decision under review.

The statement of reasons will be reviewed by Commission staff for compliance with this provision. If, in the judgment of Commission staff, the statement of reasons is deficient, it will be forwarded to the Commission chair. Should the Commission chair concur with the judgment of Commission staff, no review committee will be appointed and the statement will be returned to the institution.

If the statement of reasons is returned, the institution will be provided the opportunity to revise the statement within 21 calendar days from the date the notice of return is sent to the institution. Should the institution resubmit its statement of reasons within the prescribed time period, the revised statement will be reviewed by Commission staff. If the revised statement is still found to be deficient, it will be forwarded to the Commission chair. Should the Commission chair concur that the revised statement is deficient, no review committee will be appointed. This action is final.

4. On acceptance of the institution’s written statement referred to in 3. above, a committee of three or more persons will be selected by Commission staff to serve as the review committee. A roster of the review committee will be sent to the institution, normally within 30 calendar days of the date of the Commission’s receipt of the institution’s written statement. No person who has served as a member of the visiting team whose report is subject to review shall be eligible to serve on the review committee. The institution will be provided opportunity to object for cause to any of the proposed review committee members. After giving the institution this opportunity, Commission staff will finalize the membership of the review committee.

5. Within a reasonable period of time after the review committee has been selected, the President will schedule a meeting of the review committee at a location separate from the institution and Commission offices. No assurance can be made that the review committee process will take place in time for the review to be included on the agenda of the next Commission meeting.

6. Prior to the meeting of the review committee, the committee members will review available information. If additional information is needed, the chair of the review committee may request such information from the chief executive officer of the institution, Commission staff, or the visiting team, before, during, or after the meeting of the review committee.

7. The review will be investigative and designed to determine if any of the grounds for review cited by the institution are valid. 

8. Commission staff other than the WSCUC liaison for the contested Commission action will assist the review committee as needed. The Committee may interview, among others, Commission readers, the chair or members of the previous visiting team, and the Commission staff member who supported the team visit. Outside legal counsel is not permitted to attend or be present in meetings with the review committee without consent of the review committee chair. If allowed to be present, legal counsel will not be allowed to conduct any part of the proceedings but will be permitted to advise institutional representatives as needed. The Commission legal counsel may advise the review committee, but may not attend those portions of the review committee’s meetings when it is meeting with institutional representatives, unless legal counsel for the institution is also permitted to be present.

9. The review committee should open and close its meeting with the chief executive officer or other institutional representatives by attempting to ascertain whether or not the institution has any complaints about any aspect of the review process. All written evidence is to be provided to the review committee together with the institution’s request for review. The Commission office shall provide the review committee with documents that were available to the Commission at the time of its action. If additional information is requested from the institution, it is to be provided at least seven business days in advance of the review committee’s meeting. The review committee is only allowed to consider evidence that was available to or known by the Commission at the time of its taking action. No new evidence or information relating to actions or events subsequent to the date of the Commission action is to be presented or considered by the review committee.

10. The review committee shall prepare a report that states the reasons for the Commission action, identifies each reason advanced by the institution in its request for review, and, for each reason, evaluates the evidence that the institution has presented in support of its request for review. In addition, the review committee may evaluate additional evidence that, in its opinion, is relevant to its recommendation to the Commission. The report shall state only findings of fact and not consider or cite any evidence relating to facts or events occurring after the date of Commission action. 

11.  The chair of the review committee will submit a copy of the review committee’s report that is referred to in 10. above to the chief executive officer of the institution, the chair of the institution’s governing board, and the President of the Commission, normally within 30 calendar days of the end of the review committee’s meeting. 

12.In a confidential letter to the Commission, the review committee will recommend whether the Commission decision that is under review should be affirmed or modified. This recommendation of the review committee to the Commission will not be disclosed to the institution being reviewed. The recommendation is not binding on the Commission.

13. Within 14 calendar days of the institution’s receipt of the review committee’s report, the chief executive officer will submit a written response to the President of the Commission, with a copy to the chair of the review committee, for transmittal to the Commission. The review will be placed on the agenda of an upcoming Commission meeting, for consideration by the Commission.

14. Prior to the Commission meeting, a reader meeting will be conducted by conference call or in person where the chief executive officer of the institution and a limited number of institutional representatives will be invited to discuss the review committee report with those Commissioners designated as readers. The chair of the review committee will also be invited to participate in the call. Discussion at this reader meeting will be confined to the report of the review committee referred to in 10. above and to the institution’s response to this report.

15. The Commission readers will report the substance of this meeting to the Commission when it meets. Institutional representatives will be invited to appear before the Commission before it takes action.

16. The Commission will reach a final decision to: (1) reaffirm its original decision; (2) modify it; or (3) reverse it. As soon after the meeting as is practicable, the President will notify the chief executive officer of the institution, by a method requiring a signature, of the Commission’s decision. 

17. Special charges for the review process have been established by the Commission. A list of these charges is available from the Commission office and on the Commission website.

18.  The Commission may develop any necessary procedures and instructions to review committees to implement this process. These materials will be available from the Commission office.