Formal complaints to the COA must pertain to matters related to program compliance with accreditation standards and educational policy. Persons, groups, or organizations related to the program are considered recognized complainants and may file a complaint.
The COA is not authorized to adjudicate, arbitrate, or mediate individual faculty or student grievances against a program. Complainants must use all appropriate institutional and professional channels of appeal before filing a formal complaint with CSWE. The institutions in which programs are housed assume responsibility for implementing and enforcing their own policies in these areas. When alleged violations cannot be resolved within the institution, appellate procedures within state systems of higher education or state judicial courts should be used to assess and enforce institutional compliance with policies.
Before filing a formal complaint, a complainant may seek informal consultation from the director of OSWA. After reviewing the complaint procedures and consulting with the director of OSWA, the complainant decides whether to file a formal complaint.
Formal complaints must be submitted in writing to the director of OSWA with evidence that the complaint meets the following criteria:
On receipt of the formal complaint, the director of OSWA determines whether the criteria for formal complaints have been fully met and whether the complaint falls within the COA’s authority.
If the director determines the complaint meets the criteria for a formal complaint, the complainant and the program concerned are notified within 10 business days. The program has 30 calendar days from receipt of the complaint to respond. When the program response arrives, it is shared with the complainant, who is given 10 business days to respond. The director of OSWA presents the formal complaint, the program’s response, and the complainant’s response to the COA during its next regularly scheduled meeting and recommends a decision.
The COA may decide to take one of the following actions.
If the OSWA director determines that the complaint does not meet the criteria for formal complaints or is not within the COA’s jurisdiction, the complainant is notified and given specific reasons for the refusal within 10 business days. The director of OSWA also informs the COA of the complaint and determination at the next COA meeting. The complainant may appeal the OSWA director's decision at the following COA meeting.
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