American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

VIII. Complaint Procedures

(updated August 2014)

Procedures for Complaints Against Graduate Education Programs
Procedures for Complaints Against the Council on Academic Accreditation

Procedures for Complaints Against Graduate Education Programs

A complaint about any accredited program or program in candidacy status may be submitted by any individual(s).

Criteria for Complaints

Complaints about programs must meet the following criteria:

  1. be against an accredited graduate education program or program in candidacy status in audiology and/or speech language pathology;
  2. relate to the Standards for Accreditation of Entry-Level Graduate Education Programs in Audiology and Speech Language Pathology, including the relationship of the complaint to the accreditation standards;  
  3. clearly describe, including supporting data for the charge, the specific nature of the conduct being complained about, which 
  • if being filed by a graduate or former student, within one year of separation from the program even if the conduct occurred more than 3 years from the date of filing the complaint; or
  • for all others, including current students, the conduct must have occurred at least in part within 3 years of the date the complaint is filed.


Complaints must meet the following submission requirements:

  1. include verification, if the complaint is from a student or faculty/instructional staff member, that the complainant exhausted all pertinent institutional grievance and review mechanisms before submitting a complaint to the CAA;
  2. include the complainant's name, address and telephone contact information and the complainant's relationship to the program in order for the Accreditation Office staff to verify the source of the information;
  3. be signed and submitted in writing via U.S. mail, overnight courier, or hand delivery to the following address:

Chair, Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology
American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard, #310
Rockville, MD 20850

  1. will not be accepted by email or facsimile.

The complainant's burden of proof is a preponderance, or greater weight, of the evidence. These procedures do not prevent the CAA from considering a complaint against an accredited or candidate program if the program is involved in litigation or other actions by a third party.

Determination of Jurisdiction

Within 15 days of receipt of the complaint, Accreditation Office staff will acknowledge receipt of the complaint and will forward a copy of the complaint, from which any information that would reveal the complainant’s identity has been redacted, to the Executive Committee of the CAA. The original letter of complaint will be placed in a Accreditation Office file separate from the program's accreditation file.

The Executive Committee of the CAA will then consider and vote to determine whether the complaint meets the above criteria. An affirmative vote by two-thirds of the voting members of the Executive Committee, exclusive of the chair, is required to proceed with an investigation of a complaint.

If the Executive Committee of the CAA makes the determination that the complaint does not meet the above listed criteria, the complainant will be informed within 30 days of the letter transmitting the complaint to the Executive Committee that the CAA will not investigate the complaint.

Investigation of Complaint

If the Executive Committee of the CAA determines that the complaint satisfies the above listed criteria, the CAA will investigate the complaint.

a) The chair of the CAA will inform the complainant within 30 days of the letter transmitting the complaint to the Executive Committee that the Council will proceed with an investigation. Because it may be necessary to reveal the identity of the complainant to the affected program or to other potential sources of relevant information, the complainant will be required to sign a waiver of confidentiality within 30 days of the letter indicating that the CAA will proceed with its investigation. The complainant will be given the opportunity to withdraw the complaint during that time. If the complainant does not wish to pursue the matter, the investigation will be concluded. As noted above, if the complainant does not wish to withdraw the complaint, the complainant will be asked to keep the initiation of an investigation confidential by signing the waiver.

b) Within 15 days of receipt of the waiver of confidentiality or after the 30-day period for withdrawing the complaint has elapsed if the waiver was submitted with the complaint, the chair of the CAA will notify the program director and the institution's president or president's designee by certified return receipt mail that a complaint has been registered against the program. The notification will include a copy of the complaint from which the name of the complainant has been redacted. The CAA will require the program to respond within 10 days of the letter forwarding the complaint as to whether or not it intends to provide complete responsive information and supporting documentation considered relevant to the complaint. CAA may draw reasonable inferences from a program’s failure to provide a response to the complaint. The formal complaint response will be due 45 days from the date of the notification letter. The institution's president or president's designee may contribute to the response.

The program may request an extension to file its response if extenuating circumstances exist, but the time line will not be extended beyond 45 additional days from the original due date. The extension request must be submitted no later than the original due date and include the rationale for additional time requested, which will be considered by CAA’s Executive Committee in making its decision whether to grant an extension.

c) Within 15 days of receipt of the program’s response to the complaint, the chair of the CAA will forward the complaint and the program’s response to the complaint to the CAA. The identity of the complainant will not be revealed to the members of the CAA or to recipients of requests for information, unless a majority of CAA members consider such disclosure necessary for the proper investigation of the complaint.

If the majority of Council members concludes that individuals other than the complainant, the program director, and the institution’s president or president's designee may have information relevant to the complaint, the chair of the CAA will request such information. All conflict of interest policies and voting protocols regarding CAA members’ participation and voting on complaints also will apply to these complaint procedures.

d) After reviewing the complaint, the program’s response to the complaint and other information requested by the CAA chair as referenced above, the CAA will determine its course of action within 30 days. Such actions include, but are not limited to the following:

  • Dismissing the complaint;
  • Recommending changes in the program to be implemented within a specified period of time (except for those areas that are solely within the purview of the institution);
  • Continuing the investigation through a focused site visit to the program;
  • Placing the program on probation;
  • Withholding or withdrawing accreditation.

e) If the CAA determines that a site visit is necessary, the program director and the institution's president or president's designee will be notified, and a date for the site visit will be scheduled expeditiously. The program is responsible for payment or reimbursement of reasonable expenses associated with the site visit. The site visit team is selected from the current roster of CAA site visitors and includes the required composition of all typical site visit teams. During the site visit, consideration is given only to those standards with which the program is allegedly not in compliance. The site visit team will submit a written report to the CAA no later than 30 days following the site visit. As with all other site visits, only the observations of the site visitors will be reported; site visitors will not make accreditation recommendations. The CAA will forward the report to the program director and the institution's president or president's designee within 15 days of receiving the report from the site visit team. The program or institution shall be given 30 days from the date on which the report is postmarked to the program director and the president or president's designee to provide a written response to the chair of the CAA. The purpose of the response is to comment on the accuracy of the site visit report and respond to it.

f) The CAA will review the complaint, the program’s response to the complaint, and other information requested by the CAA chair as referenced above, including the site visit report and the program’s response to the report, and will take one of the following actions within 21 days of receipt of the program’s response:

  • Dismissing the complaint;
  • Recommending modifications of the program to be implemented within a specified period of time (except for those areas that are solely within the purview of the institution);
  • Placing the program on probation;
  • Withholding or withdrawing accreditation.

g) If the CAA withholds or withdraws accreditation, the program director and the institution's president or president's designee will be informed within 15 days of the CAA decision that accreditation has been withheld or withdrawn. That notification will also include a statement describing the justification for the decision, and shall inform the program of its option to request Further Consideration. Further Consideration is the mechanism whereby the program can present documentary evidence of compliance with the appropriate standards and ask the CAA to reevaluate its decision to withhold/withdraw accreditation.

h) If the program does not exercise its Further Consideration option in a timely manner, the CAA's decision to withhold/withdraw accreditation will be final and no further appeal may be taken. If accreditation is withheld or withdrawn, the chair of the CAA will notify the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education at the same time that it notifies the program of the decision, consistent with the CAA's Public Notice of Accreditation Actions policy.

i) If the program chooses to request Further Consideration, the CAA must receive the request within 30 days from the date of the notification letter. With the request for Further Consideration, the program must submit additional written documentation to justify why accreditation should not be withheld or withdrawn. No hearing shall occur in connection with Further Consideration requests. The CAA will evaluate the request for Further Consideration and take one of the following actions within 30 days:

  • Recommending modifications of the program to be implemented within a specified period of time (except for those areas that are solely within the purview of the institution);
  • Placing the program on probation;
  • Withholding or withdrawing accreditation.

j) Within 15 days of its decision, the CAA will notify the program and the complainant of its decision.

k) If the CAA decision after Further Consideration is to withhold or withdraw accreditation, the program may appeal the decision in accord with the Appeal Procedures described herein.

Summary of Time Lines

The following summarizes the time lines in the complaint process, beginning from the date a complaint is received.

  • Complaint is acknowledged within 15 days of receipt and forwarded to CAA Executive Committee
  • If Executive Committee determines that complaint does not meet criteria for complaints, complainant is informed within 30 days that CAA will not investigate.
  • If Executive Committee determines that complaint meets criteria, complainant is informed within 30 days of the determination that CAA will proceed with investigation.
  • Complainant is given 30 days to sign waiver of confidentiality or withdraw the complaint.
  • Within 15 days of receipt of waiver of confidentiality, the complaint is sent to the program for response, which must be submitted within 45 days. The program must submit its notice within 10 days of notification of the complaint whether it plans to file a response.
  • Within 15 days of receipt of program's response, the chair forwards complaint and program response to CAA for review.
  • Within 30 days, CAA determines course of action.
  • If CAA determines that a site visit is necessary, it is scheduled and site visit team submits report to CAA within 30 days of visit.
  • Within 15 days, the site visit report is forwarded to the program for its response within 30 days.
  • CAA takes action within 21 days of program's response.
  • If CAA withholds/withdraws accreditation, program is notified within 15 days of CAA's decision.
  • Program has 30 days to request Further Consideration.
  • If program does not request Further Consideration, decision is final and CAA notifies Secretary of U.S. Department of Education; if program timely requests Further Consideration, CAA takes action within 30 days.
  • CAA informs program and complainant within 15 days of decision following Further Consideration.

Procedures for Complaints Against the Council on Academic Accreditation

Complaints against the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) may be filed by any individual(s).

Criteria for Complaints

Complaints against the CAA must meet the following criteria:

a) must relate to the accreditation process, decisions, or actions or activities of the council;
b) clearly describe the specific nature of the conduct being complained about, which must have occurred at least in part within 1 year of the date the complaint is filed, and provide supporting data for the charge.

Complaints must meet the following submission requirements:

a) include the complainant's name, address and telephone contact information in order for the Accreditation Office staff to verify the source of the information,
b) be signed and submitted in writing via U.S. mail, overnight courier, or hand delivery to the following address:

Vice presidents for academic affairs ("Vice Presidents")
American Speech Language-Hearing Association
2200 Research Boulevard, #310
Rockville, MD 20850

c) will not be accepted by email or facsimile.

The complainant's burden of proof is a preponderance or greater weight of the evidence.

Determination of Jurisdiction

Receipt of a complaint will be acknowledged by the ASHA National Office staff and forwarded to the Vice Presidents within 15 days of receipt. The original letter of complaint will be filed in the ASHA National Office. The Vice President will determine whether the complaint meets the above-specified criteria. If the Vice President makes the determination that the complaint does not meet the above criteria, the complainant will be informed within 30 days of transmitting the complaint to the Vice President that the complaint will not be investigated.

Investigation of Complaint

If the Vice Presidents determine that the complaint meets the above criteria, the complaint will be investigated as specified below.

a) The Vice President informs the complainant within 30 days of the letter transmitting the complaint to the Vice President that the investigation will proceed. Because it may be necessary to identify the complainant to the CAA, the Review Committee, or to other sources of relevant information, the complainant will be required to sign a waiver of confidentiality within 30 days of the letter indicating that the complaint will be investigated. The complainant is given the opportunity to withdraw the complaint during that time. If the complainant does not wish to pursue the matter, the process is concluded. If the complainant wishes to proceed, the complainant is asked to keep the initiation of an investigation confidential pending the investigation and processing of the complaint.

b) The Vice Presidents will notify the CAA that a complaint has been registered against the Council and that an investigation is in process within 15 days of receipt of the complainant's waiver of confidentiality. Notification will include a redacted copy of the complaint without revealing the identity of the complainant. The CAA will be requested to provide complete responsive information and supporting documentation that it considers relevant to the complaint within 45 days of the date of the notification letter.

c) The Vice Presidents shall appoint a Review Committee to review the complaint against the Council within 30 days of receipt of the complainant's waiver of confidentiality or after 30 days to withdraw the complaint has elapsed. To assure that the committee is thoroughly familiar with accreditation standards and Council policies and procedures, the Committee shall consist of three past members of the CAA who have served during the preceding 5 years, none of whom shall have any relationship to or conflict of interest with, the complainant. Within 15 days of receipt of the CAA's response to the complaint, the Vice Presidents will forward the complaint and the CAA response to the complaint to the Review Committee.

d) Within 60 days from the date material related to the complaint is mailed to the Review Committee and after reviewing all relevant information, the Review Committee shall report to the Vice Presidents its recommendations. Such recommendations may include, but are not limited to:

  • Dismissal of the complaint
  • Recommended changes in Council policies and procedures to be implemented within a specified time period
  • Other recommended steps.

e) Within 15 days of the conclusion of its investigation of the complaint, the Review Committee will forward its recommendations to the Vice Presidents. Such recommendations will be disseminated to the CAA for its review. A full discussion of the recommendations of the Review Committee shall be placed on the agenda for the next regularly scheduled meeting of the CAA and for consideration of appropriate Council action. In the event that more immediate action is required, the CAA may have a conference call for discussion and consideration of appropriate Council action. The CAA shall strive to incorporate the Review Committee's recommendations and to make a final determination that is consistent with the Review Committee's recommendations and that is in accordance with the requirements for the CAA's external recognition. The CAA will inform the Vice Presidents of its decision/action plan within 15 days of its final decision.

f) The Vice Presidents will notify the complainant of Council action on the complaint within 15 days of the Council's decision in the matter. Decisions of the Council relative to complaints may not be appealed.

Summary of Time Lines

  • Complaint is acknowledged and forwarded to Vice Presidents within 30 days of receipt.
  • If Vice Presidents determine that complaint does not meet criteria for complaints, complainant is informed within 30 days that complaint will not be investigated.
  • If the Vice Presidents determine that complaint meets criteria, complainant is informed within 30 days that investigation will proceed.
  • Complainant is given thirty (30) days to sign waiver of confidentiality or withdraw the complaint.
  • Within 15 days of receipt of waiver of confidentiality after the 30 day period to withdraw the complaint has elapsed, the complaint is sent to the CAA for response within 45 days.
  • Within 30 days of receipt of waiver of confidentiality, the Vice Presidents appoint a Review Committee to review complaint.
  • Within 15 days of receipt of CAA's response, the Vice Presidents forward the complaint and the CAA response to the Review Committee.
  • Within 60 days, the Review Committee determines the recommended course of action.
  • The Review Committee forwards its recommendations to Vice President within 15 days, and Vice Presidents disseminate the Review Committee's recommendations to CAA.
  • CAA discusses The Review Committee recommendations at its next regularly scheduled meeting (or by conference call if immediate action is required) and takes appropriate action. CAA informs the Vice Presidents of action.
  • Vice Presidents notify complainant of CAA action within 15 days of CAA decision.

Table of Contents

Share This Page

Print This Page