July 29, 2014
Complaints
 

COMPLAINTS RELATED to ACCREDITATION REQUIREMENTS

ABHES reviews complaints against an accredited institution or program that relate to the accreditation requirements set forth in the Accreditation Manual.  If a complaint raises a question of possible violation of these requirements, the institution or program will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.  If a violation is found, ABHES will take enforcement action as necessary.

The complaint process against an accredited institution or program as outlined in Section I.B.5 of the Accreditation Manual is as follows:

ABHES reviews complaints against an accredited institution or program that relate to the accreditation requirements set forth in the Accreditation Manual.  If a complaint raises a question of possible violation of these requirements, the institution or program will be given the opportunity to respond to the complaint.  If a violation is found, ABHES will take enforcement action as necessary.

The complaint process against an accredited institution or program is as follows:

1. All complaints must be submitted in writing using the ABHES Complaint Form.  This form is available from ABHES or at www.abhes.org. The written complaint and supporting documentation must be emailed to Complaints Specialist, info@abhes.org, or mailed to Complaints Specialist, 7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314 North Falls Church, Virginia 22043.  Complaints must be in sufficient detail and clarity to permit the institution or program to respond effectively and to permit ABHES to make a determination of the facts relating to the complaint. 

2. Complaints must be made within 90 days of the last event that is material to the complaint. 

3. Within 15 business days of receipt of the complaint, ABHES will make an initial assessment whether the complaint states a possible violation of accreditation requirements.  For the purposes only of this initial assessment of the complaint, ABHES will accept facts alleged in the complaint as true.  A complaint must be in sufficient detail to permit the institution or program to respond effectively and to permit ABHES to make a determination of the facts relating to the complaint.  A complaint that lacks sufficient detail will be dismissed and the complainant so notified.  If the facts as alleged appear incomplete and it appears that further information is needed to assess the complaint, ABHES will so inform the complainant, who must then provide the information requested in order for ABHES to process the complaint further.

4. If the facts as alleged do not constitute a violation of accreditation requirements, ABHES will inform the complainant and the file will be closed. The complainant may request in writing, directed as set forth in paragraph one above, that a decision to close the complaint at this stage be reviewed by the Executive Committee.  The Executive Committee will consider such request within 30 business days and will either affirm the decision to close the complaint or reopen the case and direct the institution or program to respond.  The complainant will be notified of this decision.

5. If the facts as alleged would constitute a violation of accreditation requirements if found to be true, then ABHES will forward the complaint to the institution or program for response.  In forwarding the complaint, ABHES will identify possible violations of accreditation requirements associated with the complaint. This list is to assist the institution or program in responding and is not to be taken as conclusive since in the course of the investigation it may be determined that there is evidence of noncompliance with other accreditation requirements not set forth in the list.  The institution or program has a maximum of 30 business days from the date of the letter from ABHES to respond to the complaint. The response must provide documentation and/or evidence relevant to the complaint sufficient to permit a clear analysis to be made.  The response may, (a) deny the allegations of the complaint and present evidence to the contrary, (b) admit the allegations of the complaint but seek to demonstrate the notwithstanding the allegations there is no evidence of violation of an accreditation requirement, (c) whether admitting or denying the allegations of the complaint, document actions taken to assure that any potential violation has been corrected and to assure that violations do not occur in the future.

6. Within 15 business days of receipt of the response, ABHES will determine whether there is sufficient information upon which to determine whether it appears more likely than not that there is a violation of an accreditation requirement.  ABHES may request additional information from either the complainant or respondent if it believes such is information is necessary to the resolution of the case and will reevaluate the response after the institution or program has had an opportunity to submit such additional information.

7. If it appears more likely than not that there is no violation, ABHES will inform both the complainant and the respondent that the case has been closed.   If it appears more likely than not that there may be a violation of an accreditation requirement, the case will be referred to the Executive Committee for action.

Within 30 days of receipt of a case, the Executive Committee will; (a) determine that there is no violation and dismiss the case, (b) request additional information, (c) order the institution or program to take specific actions to bring it into compliance, (d) issue a show cause order, or (e) refer the case to the Commission for action up to and including withdrawal of accreditation.

If the Executive Committee dismisses the complaint notice of the decision of will be provided both the complainant and the respondent. In all other cases the complainant and the respondent will be notified of the disposition of the case once it becomes final.

8. Complaints referred to the Commission for action will be handled pursuant to Sections C and D of Chapter 3 of the Accreditation Manual.

9. ABHES’s conflict of interest provisions apply to the investigation and resolution of complaints.

10. Anonymous complaints:  ABHES accepts anonymous complaints but will require the institution or program to respond only if in the absence of the identity of the complainant it can be determined that the facts if true as alleged indicate a possible violation of accreditation requirements.  Complainants are cautioned that every complaint must be in sufficient detail to permit the institution or program to respond effectively and to permit ABHES to make a determination of the facts relating to the complaint.  When the identity of the complaint is a material fact necessary to permit the institution or program a full and fair opportunity to respond or the lack of identity of the complainant makes it impossible to determine with reasonable certainty that a violation of accreditation requirements may have occurred, then the anonymity of the complainant may be a basis for dismissing a complaint.  Notifications to complainants and requests to complainants for additional information otherwise set forth in this section are not applicable to anonymous complaints.

11. Requests for complainant confidentiality:  ABHES will consider requests from complainants that their identity be withheld from the institution or program named in the complaint.  ABHES will in its discretion attempt to honor such requests but in no case can ABHES guarantee that the identity of a complainant will remain confidential after a written complainant is made to ABHES.  If ABHES determines that it is more likely than not that an accreditation violation occurred if the allegations of the complaint are taken to be true and that the individual identity of the complainant is a material fact necessary to determining whether a violation occurred or necessary to permit the respondent a fair and equitable opportunity to respond, then ABHES will reveal the identity of the complainant as necessary to resolve the case.

ABHES reviews complaints against ABHES in a timely, fair and equitable manner, and applies unbiased judgment to take follow-up action, as appropriate, based on the results of its review.  The process for complaints against ABHES is as follows:

1. All complaints must be submitted in writing. The written complaint and supporting documentation must be emailed to Complaints Specialist, info@abhes.org, or mailed to Complaints Specialist, 7777 Leesburg Pike, Suite 314 North Falls Church, Virginia 22043.  The complaint must state in narrative format the specific allegations in sufficient detail and with sufficient supporting documentation to permit understanding of the nature of the complaint and its factual support.  If the complaint is in regards to the Complaints Specialist, the written complaint may be addressed to the Executive Director at either the email or direct mail address above.

2. ABHES’s conflict of interest provisions apply to the investigation and resolution of complaints.

3. The complaint and its supporting documentation will be reviewed by the Executive Committee within 30 business days of receipt by ABHES.  Thereafter, the Committee will act to gather any additional information it deems relevant to its disposition of the complaint.

4. The Executive Committee will issue a decision on the complaint. Notice of the decision will be provided the complainant.  The Executive Committee will report its decision and any recommendations for follow-up action to the Executive Director.

5. Anonymous complaints:  ABHES accepts anonymous complaints against itself and determines the facts alleged in an anonymous complaint to the extent possible in the absence of the complainant’s identity.  When the identity of the complaint is a material fact necessary to permit a full and fair understanding of the facts, then the anonymity of the complainant may be a basis for dismissing a complaint.  Notifications to complainants and requests to complainants for additional information otherwise set forth in this section are not applicable to anonymous complaints.

To download the Complaint Form click below:

Complaint Form