The ACPE appeal process for adverse accreditation decisions is designed to provide due process as defined by the U.S. Department of Education.

Procedure/Time Lines

  1. Within 30 calendar days, appellant must notify ACPE Executive Director in writing at

By Mail: ACPE, One West Court Square, Suite 325, Decatur, GA 30030

OR

By Email: confidential@acpe.edu

stating the grounds upon which appeal is based. An appeal must be based on the grounds that the adverse decision was:

  • arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise in violation of Accreditation Standards or the ACPE Accreditation Manual;

OR

  • not supported by substantial evidence in the record on which the adverse decision was based that could have substantially altered the outcome.

The appellant bears the burden of proof to establish the basis of the appeal to the satisfaction of the appeal panel.

  1. Within 21 days of receipt of notice from appellant, ACPE Executive Director or designee acknowledges receipt of appeal and:
    • notifies the Commission chair.
    • provides the appellant with the appeal pool roster.

The Appeal Pool consists of educator members and practitioners. An Appeal Panel is selected from this pool, along with members of the public appointed by the ACPE Executive Director, and others at the discretion of the Executive Director. Three member appeal panels will include at least one educator, one member of the public, and one practitioner. The ACPE Executive Director maintains a pool of public members available to serve.

Criteria for Members of the Appeal Pool

  • ACPE Certified Educators, cognate group members, and representatives of other disciplines.
  • expertise in accreditation.
  • knowledge of ACPE standards.
  • free of any conflict of interest, including ACPE Board, officer, or Executive Director; participant in area or national accreditation activities at time of the decision being appealed.
  • training in judicatory or complaint and appeal processes within ACPE, a cognate group, or other professional forum.
  1. Within 15 days of sending by email the appeal pool roster, appellant may identify, without cause, up to three members of the pool who may not be impaneled.
  1. Within 30 days following appellant’s challenges, or no response from appellant, ACPE Executive Director or designee:
    1. appoints a three member appeal panel, including at least one educator, one member of the public, and one practitioner, and whose members have no personal/professional conflict of interest in the particular appeal.
    2. designates one member as Panel Chair.
    3. sends appeal materials to Panel:.
      1. statement of appellant of grounds for appeal.
      2. record of the decision.
      3. additional documentation as needed to clarify the appeal grounds.
      4. Commission Action Report of adverse decision.

Following the meeting of the Appeal Panel, one of the following occurs:

  • If, in the judgment of the panel, the criteria for an appeal are not met, the appeal is dismissed and the decision of the commission stands. The Panel Chair informs the Executive Director in writing and the Executive Director informs the appellant and Accreditation Commission Chair. The panel may choose to offer feedback to the commission. There is no appeal of the Panel’s decision.
  • If the Panel determines one or more of the criteria for an appeal are met, the Panel Chair:
    1. establishes date and place of hearing;
    2. notifies the Executive Director who notifies the appellant and Accreditation Commission Chair;
    3. Executive Director sends the appellant any of the above materials they do not have.
  1. Within 15 days of ACPE sending by email the notification to the appellant about the hearing, the appellant may submit to documentation citing additional grounds for the appeal to the panel; comment is limited to commentary on the written record. Documentation may not include new evidence, materials, or information developed after the decision was rendered.
  1. Within 30 days of ACPE sending the notification about the hearing, the panel holds a hearing. No audio or audiovisual recording of a hearing is allowed.
    1. Appearance at the hearing
      1. Appellants may bring legal counsel or a support person to advise them. However, only the appellant(s) will be permitted to speak at the hearing.
      2. A representative of the commission that rendered the adverse decision may also appear and speak, at the discretion of the commission or at the request of the panel.
    2. At the discretion of the panel, appellant and entity representative may be heard at separate times.
    3. The hearing panel will:
      1. uphold the original decision or
      2. Remand the decision to the Accreditation Commission for further action.
        1. Panel must identify specific issues to be addressed by the Accreditation Commission;
        2. provide specific instruction to the appellant and Accreditation Commission, including but not limited to:
          1. waiver of fees,
          2. submission of new materials,
          3. other matters as befits a just and equitable outcome in the opinion of the Appeal Panel.
      3. vacate the decision
  1. If the Appeal Panel votes to vacates the decision, a five person Review Panel is convened within 30 days. The Review Panel will include two members of the original Appeal Panel, two Commission members appointed by the Commission chair (cannot have been on the site team), and one person appointed by the ACPE Executive Director or designee.
    1. Appellant has right to peremptorily challenge one member of the Review Panel within five days of notification by email.
    2. Review Panel members must not have personal or professional conflict of interest.
    3. Review Panel is authorized to act on behalf of the Commission.
    4. Decision of the Review Panel is final and binding on ACPE and its members and affiliates.
    5. Within 45 days of formation, the Review Panel reviews all relevant documents and makes a decision.
    6. Within 7 days after the conclusion of the Review Panel Meeting, the Review Panel submits its decision, in writing, to the ACPE Executive Director who sends it to the Commission chair and appellant.
  1. The Review Panel accepts the original determination of jurisdiction for the appeal. The Review Panel considers afresh those portions of the Commission’s decision that the appeal panel vacated and makes its own decision and gives directions, as necessary, regarding those portions. If the entire decision was vacated, the Review Panel acts accordingly. It may use the materials available to the Commission in its original decision and those available to the appeal panel. It may seek testimony (oral and/or written) and request additional materials from anyone or source it believes will help it reach a just and fair decision on the issue of Accreditation for the respondent-program.
  1. After receipt of appeal or Review Panel’s findings by all parties, disposition of the appeal shall be published. See Commission notifications to the U.S. Secretary of Education, appropriate state agencies, and the public via the ACPE website.
  1. Within 30 days following the hearing, appeal or review panel, whichever last occurs, the panel chair(s) consults with the Accreditation Commission Chair to address any procedural issues found not in compliance with ACPE Standards or the Accreditation Manual.
  1. Final Ruling: The ruling of the Appeals Panel is final and binding for ACPE.

Responsibility for costs of appeal

  1. Appellant(s) is responsible for all costs for expenses related to initiating/presenting the appeal, including travel for the hearing and any support persons.
  2. ACPE is responsible for costs to it associated with decisions made by the Accreditation Commission, i.e., Appeal Panel, Commission representative, legal consultation to ACPE with ACPE designated attorney(s).
  3. The ACPE Executive Director or designee authorizes all ACPE related expenses. ACPE is not responsible for unauthorized legal services.