Filing a Complaint
ACEND® has established a process for reviewing complaints against accredited programs in order to fulfill its public responsibility for assuring the quality and integrity of the educational programs that it accredits. Any individual, for example, student, faculty, dietetics practitioner and/or member of the public may submit a complaint against any accredited program to ACEND. However, the ACEND board does not intervene on behalf of individuals or act as a court of appeal for individuals in matters of admissions, appointment, promotion or dismissal of faculty or students. It acts only upon a signed allegation that the program may not be in compliance with the Accreditation Standards or policies. The complaint must be signed by the complainant. Anonymous complaints are not considered.
Procedure for Complaints Against Accredited Programs
- Any individual, for example, student, faculty, nutrition and dietetics practitioner and/or member of the public may submit a complaint to ACEND against any ACEND-accredited program. However, the ACEND board does not intervene on behalf of individuals or act as a court of appeal for individuals in matters of admissions, appointment, promotion or dismissal of faculty or students. ACEND will also not seek any type of compensation, reimbursement, readmission or other redress on an individual's behalf. It acts only upon a signed allegation that the program may not be in compliance with the accreditation standards or policies.
- The complaint must be signed by the complainant. Anonymous complaints are not considered to allow ACEND to communicate with the complainant throughout the process. If the complainant requests to remain confidential to the program, the complainant must also provide a written copy of the complaint where identifying information is blocked out/redacted.
- ACEND complaints must be submitted on the ACEND complaint submission form. This form may be submitted via multiple methods including email or mail. If needed, ACEND staff can assist with the completion of this form.
- Once submitted and under review, ACEND will not accept additional evidence for the previously submitted complaint.
- Complaints must be submitted within one year of the last event that is pertinent to the complaint to assure that the facts included in the complaint can be ascertained through the review process.
- Multiple complaints will not be accepted from the same complainant when the complaints are:
- Simultaneous to a previously submitted complaint that is under investigation by ACEND.
- Related to the same issue, standard(s) or policy(ies).
- Related to the same program and based on similar or related facts.
- ACEND staff forwards all written complaints to the ACEND chair within three weeks of receipt of the complaint.
- If the ACEND chair determines that the complaint does not relate to the accreditation standards or policies or does not relate to a potential ACEND violation or noncompliance, the complainant is notified in writing within two weeks of the chair’s review that no further action will be taken.
- If the ACEND chair determines that the complaint may relate to the accreditation standards or policies, the complaint is acknowledged in writing within two weeks of the chair's review and the complainant is provided a copy of the process for handling the complaint.
- At the same time as the complainant is notified, the complaint is forwarded to the program electronically. The administrative officers of the institution or organization sponsoring the program, currently on file with ACEND, receive copies of the correspondence via email.
- The ACEND chair requests the program submit a report addressing compliance with the relevant accreditation standards or policies submitted electronically no more than 30 calendar days from receipt of the notification.
- The ACEND chair may also request further information or materials relating to the complaint from the complainant, the institution or other sources.
- The ACEND staff identify a review committee to consider the complaint, along with all relevant information. The review committee recommends appropriate action to the ACEND board at its next scheduled meeting.
- In determining the appropriate action, the ACEND board considers the complaint, materials relating to the complaint, the review committee's recommendation, if any, and additional evidence provided by the program, if any.
- The ACEND board or the ACEND chair may determine that legal counsel is needed to address the complaint. Staff work with the ACEND board and legal counsel to identify a plan to address the complaint.
- If the complaint is determined to be unsubstantiated or not related to the accreditation standards or policies, no action is taken.
- If the complaint is substantiated and indicates that the program may not be in compliance with the accreditation standards or policies, appropriate action is taken, which may include, but is not limited to, the ACEND board placing the program on probation or withdrawing of accreditation or scheduling an on-site visit at the program’s expense.
- The program director and administration of the sponsoring institution are notified of the ACEND board's decision and action via email within two weeks of the decision. The complainant is notified of the final decision and action via email within two weeks of the final decision.
- Decisions related to a complaint review are not subject to an appeal by the complainant or buy the program; however, in the event the program is placed on probation or accreditation is withdrawn, the program has the right to request the ACEND board to reconsider the decision. (See the Requests for Reconsideration of ACEND Board Decisions Section 2.8)
Updated December 2023
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