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Report Complaints: Western ACS

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Complaints are considered only when made in writing and when the complainant is clearly identified. Substantial evidence should be included in support of the allegation that the institution is in significant violation of the rules of good practice as stated in the Commission’s criteria, standards, and policies. Such evidence should state relevant and provable facts.

The ACS WASC Commission requires that each affiliated institution have in place student grievance and public complaint policies and procedures that are reasonable, fairly administered, and well publicized. A record of all written complaints received by the institution must be maintained and made available for review by ACS WASC upon request. The complainant should demonstrate that a serious effort has been made to pursue all review procedures provided by the institution.

All complaints must be filed using the correct form. All complaints must be signed; anonymous complaints are discarded.

Important Note: This complaint form is for K-12 schools and not-for-profit, non-degree granting postsecondary institutions only. For issues with a college or university, contact the Accrediting Commission for Senior Colleges and Universities, For issues with community and junior colleges, contact the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges,

ACS WASC Complaint Form
Complaints that are reviewed must be submitted with the signature of the complainant; in addition, the complainant must ensure that all means to resolve the issue have been exhausted and there is no current pending litigation.

It is the complainant’s responsibility to provide a clear description of evidence that backs up allegations, demonstrate that all remedies with the school’s governing board have been exhausted, confirm that the matter is under ACS WASC’s jurisdiction, affirm that the matter is not under litigation or threat of litigation, and that the complaint form is signed.

The excerpts from the Commission bylaws clearly explain the type of complaints that are not under the jurisdiction of ACS WASC.

ACS WASC Bylaws and Policy Manual
ACS WASC Complaint Procedures

When the Commission receives a complaint about a candidate or accredited institution, it reviews that information to determine if it is relevant to the compliance of that institution with Commission standards. ACS WASC will respond to the complainant within 15 days.

If the complaint is deemed to be under ACS WASC’s jurisdiction, ACS WASC executive staff will contact the school in question and allow it to officially respond to the complaint. The Commission at all times reserves the right to request information of an affiliated institution and to visit that institution for purposes of fact finding consistent with Commission policy. Every effort will be made to complete the investigation and reach a conclusion within 90 days.

A pattern of concern which may evidence a significant lack of compliance with standards could cause the Commission to renew its consideration of the matter for whatever action may be appropriate. If information is received raising issues of institutional integrity, the Commission may invoke the sanctions provided for in policy.

Both the institution and the complainant will be notified of the outcome of the review of the complaint. The school and the complainant have the right to respond to ACS WASC’s findings within 30 days. Based on all the information received, the decision shared with the school and the complainant by the President is final. If the complaint was referred to ACS WASC by another agency, that agency will be notified of the findings.

Note: California Education Code Section 94332 requires that complaints filed against ACS WASC affiliated private institutions in California with the Bureau of Private Postsecondary Education (BPPE) be forwarded to ACS WASC for review.

Once a complaint has been received and it is clear that ACS WASC has jurisdiction in the matter, the President shall draft procedures for implementation of the complaints policy. The procedures shall adhere to the following criteria:

Protect the rights of both parties to be heard and to present evidence.
Take all reasonable measures to assure prompt resolution of the complaint.
Communicate in a timely manner to all parties regarding findings, conclusions, or rulings which are a result of investigation of the complaint.
If the results of the investigation corroborate the complaint, the President may direct the school to rectify the situation or take such other immediate action as he/she deems appropriate subject to ratification of the action by the Commission at its next meeting.

Examples of such other action might be:

An administrative letter of censure.
A written order to the school to show cause why accreditation status should not be withheld. The school must be notified of the specific grounds for adverse action, the specific standard(s) for which there has not been compliance, the nature of the action, and the right of the school to appeal.
A requirement that the school make official rectification to the complainant.
Other actions as deemed appropriate by the President in consultation with the Commission Chairperson.

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