Note: all time frames are calendar days.


  1. Publication of decisions – Decisions to deny certification or revoke educator status are not effective or published until time for appeal has lapsed or until the appeal process is concluded, which ever applies.
  2. Records maintenance – When a negative certification decision is rendered, the reviewing committee, or Commission retains all materials submitted by the appellant until time for appeal has lapsed.
  3. Burden of proof – The appellant bears the burden of proof to establish the basis of the appeal to the satisfaction of the Appeal Panel. An appeal must be based on the grounds that such decision was:
    1. Arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise in violation of ACPE Certification Standards /Competencies or the ACPE Certification Manual that could have substantially altered the outcome OR
    2. Not supported by substantial evidence in the record on which the negative decision was based that could have substantially altered the outcome.
  4. Scope of appeal panel consideration – If grounds are established, the question before the Appeal Panel is: does the record on which the negative decision was based support the decision? The veracity of the record content or process of collection is not for the Appeal Panel to assess. The appeal panel will consider only material from the record on which the negative decision is based.
  5. Appearance at hearing – If an appeal panel hearing is convened:
    1. Appellants may bring legal counsel or a support person to advise them. Only the appellant will be permitted to speak at the hearing.
    2. A representative of the entity that rendered the negative decision may also appear and speak at the discretion of the entity or the panel.
    3. At the discretion of the panel, the appellant and entity representative may be heard at separate times.
    4. No audio or audiovisual recording of a hearing is allowed.
  6. Final ruling – The ruling of the appeal panel is final and binding for ACPE.
  7. Responsibility for costs of appeals
    1. The appellant(s) is responsible for all expenses related to initiating/presenting the appeal, including travel for hearing and support persons.
    2. ACPE is responsible for costs associated with decisions made originally by the Commission, i.e. Appeal Panel, Commission representative, legal consultation to ACPE with ACPE designated attorney(s). The ACPE Executive Director authorizes all ACPE related expenses. ACPE is not responsible for unauthorized legal services or other consultations.
  8. Appeal Pool Member Criteria

Appeal pool members shall consist of:

  1. ACPE Certified Educators, cognate group members and representatives of other disciplines;
  2. expertise in certification;
  3. Knowledge of ACPE standards; and
  4. Free of any conflict of interest, including: ACPE Board, officer or Executive Director; no participation in certification activities at the time of the decision being appealed.

II. Procedure/Time Lines

The time line begins with the Commission’s mailing by secure email of notice of certification action.

  1. Within 30 days, the appellant must notify the ACPE Executive Director or Director of Programs in writing at

ACPE: The Standard for Spiritual Care and Education
We Work, Floor 4
120 West Trinity Place
Decatur, GA 30030

stating grounds upon which the appeal is based.

  1. Within 21 days of receipt of notice from the appellant, the ACPE Executive Director or Director of Programs acknowledges receipt of the appeal and
    1. Notifies the Commission chair, and
    2. Provides the appellant the appeal pool roster.
  2. Within 15 days of sending by secure email and certified mail, the appeal pool roster, the appellant may identify without cause up to three members of the pool who may not be impaneled.
  3. Within 30 days following the mailing of the roster, or no response from the appellant, the ACPE Executive Director:
    1. Appoints a three member appeal panel who have no personal or professional conflict of interest in the particular appeal.
    2. Designates one member as panel chair.
    3. Sends appeal materials to the Panel:
    4. Statement of the appellant of grounds for appeal;
    5. The record of the decision;
    6. Written materials submitted to the committee or Commission by the person seeking certification;
    7. The presenter’s report;
    8. The committee/Commission action report of negative decision; and
    9. Additional documentation as needed to clarify the appeal grounds (ACPE Executive Director or Director of Programs also supplies these to the appellant.)
  4. Panel Chair convenes Panel by video conference or telephonic means to determine if criteria for an Appeal Hearing have been met.
    1. If in the judgment of the Panel the criteria are not met, the appeal is dismissed and the decision stands.
    2. The Panel Chair informs the Executive Director in writing and the Executive Director informs the appellant and Certification Commission Chair.
    3. There is no appeal of the Panel’s decision.
    4. If the Panel determines one or more criteria are met, the Panel Chair:
      1. establishes date and place of Hearing
      2. notifies the Executive Director who notifies the appellant and Certification Commission Chair
      3. Executive Director or Director of Programs sends the appellant any of the above materials they do not have.
  5. Within 15 days of ACPE sending by secure email the notification, appellant may submit to Appeal Panel documentation citing additional grounds for the Appeal; comment is limited to commentary on the written record. Documentation may not include new evidence, materials, or information developed after the decision.
  6. within 30 days the Panel determining one or more criteria are met, the Panel holds a hearing. It will:
    1. uphold the decision, or
    2. Remand the decision to the respective committee or the Commission for further action. The panel must:
      1. Identify specific issues to be addressed by the Certification Commission
      2. provide specify instruction to the appellant and committee/Commission including but not limited to:
        1. waiver of fees,
        2. submission of new materials and
        3. other matters as befits a just and equitable outcome in the opinion of the Appeal Panel.
      3. Vacate the decision.

In a decision implemented by or remanded to the original decision-making body, that body must act in a manner consistent with the Appeal Panel’s decision or instruction.

  1. Within 30 days of a decision being vacated, a five person Review Panel is convened that includes:
    1. Two members of the appeal panel,
    2. Two Commission members, who cannot have been on the original subcommittee, appointed by the Commission chair, and
    3. One person appointed by the ACPE Executive Director.
      1. The appellant has the 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. Within 45 days of formation, the Review Panel reviews all relevant documents, examines the appellant, and makes a decision.
      5. Within seven days, the Review Panel submits its decision, in writing, to the ACPE Executive Director who sends it to the Commission chair and appellant.
    4. The decision of the Review Panel is binding on ACPE and its members and affiliates.
  2. The Review Panel accepts the original determination of jurisdiction for Appeal. The Review Panel considers afresh those portions of the Certification decision that the Appeal Panel vacated and makes its own decision and gives direction, 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 or subcommittee 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 certification for the appellant.
  3. After receipt of the Appeal or Review Panel’s findings by all parties, disposition of the appeal may be published.
  4. Within 30 days following the Hearing, Appeal, or Review Panel, whichever last occurs, the Panel Chair(s) consults with the Certification Commission Chair to address any procedural issues found not in compliance with ACPE Standards or Certification Manual.