VII. Further Consideration and Appeal Procedures
When the CAA votes to withdraw or withhold an accreditation status from a program, notification also includes justification for the decision and informs the program of its opportunity to request a Further Consideration review of the decision by the CAA and subsequently to appeal the decision. Further Consideration is the mechanism whereby the program can present written documentary evidence of compliance with the appropriate standards. By exercising this prerogative, the program asks the CAA to reevaluate its decision to withhold or withdraw its accreditation status (candidacy or accreditation).
If the program chooses to request a Further Consideration review, it must submit written documentation to justify why candidacy or accreditation should not be withheld or withdrawn within 30 days from the date of notification. If the program does not exercise its Further Consideration option, the CAA's decision to withhold or withdraw accreditation is final and cannot be appealed.
At its next face-to-face meeting the CAA will review the program's Further Consideration request and documentation and make a decision consistent with the review and process through which the accreditation or candidacy status had been withheld or withdrawn, e.g., award accreditation or candidacy, withhold or withdraw accreditation or candidacy, or place the program on probation if the program is currently accredited. The CAA chair notifies the program's director and the institution's president or designee within 30 days of its decision. Notice of withholding or withdrawing a program's accreditation or candidacy status includes a statement justifying the decision.
If the CAA again votes to withdraw or withhold accreditation or candidacy, the program may file an appeal consistent with the procedures outline below.
If the decision to withhold or withdraw an accreditation status was based solely upon a program's failure to meet a standard pertaining to finances, the program may on one occasion seek review by the CAA of significant financial information that was unavailable to the program prior to the decision to withhold or withdraw the accreditation status, and that bears materially on the financial deficiencies identified by the CAA. The new financial information submitted by the program must meet the criteria of significance and materiality for consideration by the CAA prior to the decision to withhold or withdraw an accreditation status becomes final. Any determination made by the CAA with respect to the new financial information described above is not separately appealable by the program.
Decisions of the Council on Academic Accreditation in Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology (CAA) may be appealed in accord with the procedures specified below.
Only the following decisions of the CAA may be appealed:
- to withhold candidacy from an education program not currently accredited,
- to withhold accreditation from an education program not currently accredited,
- to withdraw candidacy from an education program that currently holds candidate status,
- to withdraw accreditation from an education program that currently is accredited,
- to withhold approval of the plan for substantive change.
A program may appeal only on the grounds that (a) the CAA decision was arbitrary, capricious, or not supported by substantial evidence in the record on which the CAA took action; (b) the CAA did not properly apply the standards for accreditation; or (c) the procedures used to reach the decision were contrary to accreditation policies and procedures. The appellant program's burden of proof is a preponderance or greater weight of the evidence. The function of the Appeal Panel is to review the record and to determine whether the CAA followed required procedures, properly applied the standards, and based its decision on evidence that was in the record before it when it made its decision.
CAA decisions may be appealed only if the program has first exercised its option to undergo Further Consideration of that decision by the CAA and that review has been completed in accord with the procedures specified in this Manual.
Filing an Appeal
Within 60 days of the date of the Council's certified, return-receipt requested letter reporting the Council's decision, the program shall submit its appeal to the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) vice president for academic affairs. The appeal should include a full written explanation of the grounds for appeal. The explanation should not introduce evidentiary matters not included in the record before the CAA at the time of its decision. The appellant program (program) shall also transmit a copy of the appeal to the chair of the Council.
Scope and Basis for Appeal
An appeal of a CAA decision shall be on the Council's record. All written material that the CAA considered in reaching its decision constitutes the record, in accord with the review procedures outlined in this Manual. A program's appeal shall not introduce evidentiary matters not included in the record before the CAA. Review of an appeal must be based on the Standards for Accreditation in effect at the time of the accreditation decision.
The CAA shall provide complete copies of the record made before the Council to the Appeal Panel and to the program within 7 days of the appointment of the Appeal Panel, as described below. The chair of the CAA may also choose to submit a written statement further explaining the Council's accreditation decision. This statement shall not introduce evidentiary matters not included in the record before the Council.
Appointment of an Appeal Panel
Accreditation Office staff shall maintain a list of at least 20 persons who are qualified by prior service on the CAA to serve on ad hoc appeal panels. The list shall be updated on an annual basis and made available to the vice presidents for academic affairs as needed. All members of ad hoc appeal panels shall be selected from that list.
The Appeal Panel (Panel) must be comprised of one academic member, one practitioner member, and one public member. For an appeal involving a program in only one profession (audiology or speech-language pathology), two of the three panel members shall represent that profession. For an appeal involving programs in both professions, the Panel shall include at least one representative from each profession.
To consider a specific appeal, the ASHA vice presidents for academic affairs shall identify at least six persons as potential members of an ad hoc appeal panel, none of whom shall have a conflict of interest with the program or participated in the accreditation process leading to the decision being appealed. The vice presidents will contact each person to determine his/her willingness to serve on an appeal panel. If the vice presidents for academic affairs have a conflict of interest with the program, the ASHA president will designate another vice president to make the selections for the appeal panel.
After determining the willingness of these persons to serve, the names will be transmitted to the program and the CAA chair, either of which may challenge any of the potential panelists for just cause (e.g., conflict of interest, bias). After considering such challenges, the vice presidents for academic affairs shall appoint three members of the Appeal Panel and shall designate one of them as chair. Members will be appointed based on their current function (i.e., academic, practitioner), which may be different from their role during their term of CAA service, to ensure appropriate composition on the Panel.
The program and the chair of the CAA shall be informed of the Panel appointments. Appointment of the Panel shall be completed within 30 days of the receipt of the program's appeal. Appeal Panel members will be provided materials to support the review and resolution of the appeal, including CAA's Standards for Accreditation, CAA's Accreditation Manual (including the further consideration and appeal procedures, conflict of interest policy, review process guidelines and materials, decision options, etc.).
The Panel chair shall schedule a hearing on the appeal to occur within 60 days of receipt of the appeal and shall notify the program and the chair of the CAA of the time and place thereof. Each shall have the right to appear in person or by designated representative and to present a statement or argument or, as an alternative, to present a statement or argument via telephone conference.
In addition, the program may inform the Panel chair in writing that it chooses to have the appeal considered on the basis of written documents only, without a hearing. If this option is chosen, the Panel will hold a meeting within 60 days of receipt of the appeal to consider the written record and reach a decision. Only the Panel's legal advisor and the ASHA staff member assigned to maintain a record of the Panel's decision may be present during this process.
The program shall be entitled to be represented by counsel at the hearing. Counsel for ASHA may be present to advise the Panel concerning the conduct of the hearing. The CAA chair shall be entitled to the assistance of a resource person at the hearing. That person, at the Panel's discretion, may be called to provide information and, in this case, shall be subject to questioning like any other presenter.
No additional persons other than the ASHA staff member assigned to record the proceedings shall be present at the hearing. Following introductory remarks by the Panel Chair, the program shall be heard first, then the CAA. Finally, the program shall be afforded the opportunity for rebuttal. Program representatives shall not be permitted to direct questions to the CAA representatives and the CAA representatives shall not be permitted to direct questions to the program representatives.
After the hearing, the Panel shall meet in closed session, with only the Panel's legal advisor and assigned staff member present, to consider its decision which shall be by majority vote of the Panel.
Panel Decision and Report
The function of the Panel shall be to review the record and to determine whether the CAA followed required procedures, properly applied the standards, and based its decision on evidence that was in the record before it when it made its decision. The Panel shall determine whether or not there was sufficient probative evidence before the CAA that would justify its decision. The Panel has decision-making authority for accreditation decisions, limited to actions considered under this appeal policy. The CAA shall accept the authority of the Panel in making an accreditation decision under protection of the appeal procedures and implement fully the decision consistent with the appeals panel's decisions or instructions.
For the CAA decision being appealed, the Panel may:
(a) affirm the CAA decision,
(b) amend the CAA decision,
(c) reverse the CAA decision, or
(d) remand the case to the CAA for reconsideration in light of the Panel's findings regarding procedural violations or substantive errors in the Council's decision. The Panel must identify specific issues for review by the CAA before taking final action.
The report of the Panel will state its decision and the basis for it. The Panel will transmit its report within 15 days of its decision to the program, the CAA, the vice presidents for academic affairs. The final decision shall be available consistent with the CAA's policy on Public Notice of Accreditation Actions. If the Panel upholds the decision of the Council, that decision becomes final as of the date of the letter informing the program of the Panel's decision and is not subject to appeal.
When a decision is amended or reversed by the Panel, that decision becomes final as of the date of the letter informing the program of the Panel's decision and are not subject to appeal. The Panel's decision must be consistent with the decision options available to the CAA, as outlined in the Accreditation Manual. The final decision shall be made available consistent with the CAA's policy on Public Notice of Accreditation Actions.
When a decision is remanded, the CAA shall reconsider its previous decision no later than its next regularly scheduled meeting, giving due consideration to the findings and recommendations of the Panel. The results will be transmitted to the program and the vice presidents for academic affairs within 15 days of the reconsidered decision. Reconsidered decisions are final, and no further appeals process is available. The final decision shall be made available consistent with the CAA's policy on Public Notice of Accreditation Actions. The program may apply to the CAA for an accreditation status in future without prejudice.
Summary of Time Lines
The following summarizes the time lines in the appeal process, beginning from the date an appealable decision is transmitted to a program from the CAA.
- Program submits appeal within 60 days of CAA decision letter;
- Appeal Panel is appointed within 30 days of receipt of appeal;
- CAA forwards to the Appeal Panel and program within 7 days of the appointment of the Appeal Panel a copy of the record made before the CAA and any written statement further explaining the accreditation decision;
- Appeal Hearing (or meeting to consider written appeal) occurs within 60 days of the appointment of the Appeal Panel;
- Appeal Panel transmits final decision and its basis within 15 days of Appeal Hearing or Appeal Panel meeting;
- If decision is remanded, CAA considers its previous decision no later than its next regularly scheduled meeting and transmits results of reconsideration to program within 15 days of that meeting.
Costs of Appeals
All costs incurred by the program in connection with the appeal including, but not limited to, travel and lodging of the program's representatives and other fees shall be the program's sole responsibility. All costs associated with the members of the Appeal Panel shall be divided equally between the program and the CAA. Any additional costs incurred by the CAA (e.g., legal counsel) shall be the CAA's sole responsibility. Administrative costs of the appeals process itself (e.g., ASHA legal counsel, staffing, meeting facilities) will be assumed by ASHA.
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