IN THE MATTER OF MEDICAL ARTS TRAINING CENTER,
Docket No. 93-164-EA
Emergency Action Proceeding
Appearances: Frank Brady, Esq., of Boca Raton, Florida, for
Steven Z. Finley, Esq., and Donald Philips,
Esq., of Washington D.C., Office of the General
Counsel, U.S. Department of Education, for
Student Financial Assistance Programs.
Before: Judge Ernest C. Canellos
On December 7, 1993, the Office of Student Financial
Assistance Programs (SFAP) of the U.S. Department of
Education (ED) imposed an emergency action against the
Medical Arts Training Center (Center) of Margate, Florida, in
accordance with 20 U.S.C. §1094(c)(1)(G) and 34 CFR §§600.41
and 668.83. In response to the notice, on December 10, 1993,
Center requested an opportunity to show cause why the
emergency action is unwarranted.
Pursuant to the Delegation of Authority from the Secretary to me to conduct proceedings and issue final decisions in circumstances where educational institutions request an opportunity to show cause why an emergency action is unwarranted, I conducted a hearing by teleconference on December 21, 1993. At the hearing, I reviewed the letters of notification and each party made an oral presentation. Because of the technical nature of the issues and because their appeared to be questions of law rather than fact, I directed the parties to submit post-hearing briefs. Each side did so and I have considered such presentations in reaching my decision.
The basic facts are not in dispute. Center was notified on
November 4, 1993, by the Accrediting Bureau of Health
Education Schools (ABHES) that Center's institutional
accreditation was withdrawn. It was on the basis of this
accreditation, as well as on the completion of other
prerequisites, that Center was determined to be eligible to
participate in federal student financial assistance programs
under Title IV of the Higher Education Act of 1965, as
amended (HEA). As a consequence of the loss of this
accreditation, SFAP issued its Notice of Emergency Action on
December 7, 1993. This notice was followed by SFAP's
issuance of a Notice of Intent to Terminate the eligibility
of Center to participate in Title IV programs. The basis of
both SFAP actions was predicated upon the failure of Center
to satisfy one of the mandatory statutory requirements for
eligibility in order to participate in such programs, namely
the requirement that an institution be accredited by a
nationally recognized accrediting agency. 20 U.S.C.
1085(b)(5). ED's contention is that an emergency action is
necessary due to Center's loss of eligibility.
Center, in defense, raises three principle arguments. First,
SFAP's use of an emergency action is unwarranted because the
requirements of 34 CFR § 668.83(c) are not satisfied because
there is no misuse of federal funds and no likelihood that
federal funds will be lost. Second, Center has not lost its
eligibility because one of its programs is currently
accredited by the American Medical Association, Committee on
Allied Health Education Accreditation (CAHEA), and,
therefore, such alternative accreditation makes the school
otherwise eligible. Third, the withdrawal by ABHES of its
accreditation violated the Due Process rights provided in
both the HEA and ABHES' own written procedures.
On the basis of the Due Process assertion, the Center has
sued both ABHES and ED for Temporary and Permanent Injunctive
Relief to reinstate its accreditation so as to permit
continuation in the Title IV programs. Such a forum is the
appropriate venue for Center's Due Process claim.
34 C.F.R. § 668.83(c) provides that an emergency action is
appropriate if: 1) there is reliable information that an
institution is violating provisions of Title IV of the HEA;
2) immediate action is necessary to prevent misuse of Federal
funds, and 3) the likelihood of loss outweighs the importance
of adherence to the procedures for limitation, suspension,
and termination actions.
In light of the above, I make the following findings. First,
an emergency action is an appropriate measure to take against
an institution which loses its eligibility because the
institution then fails to meet one of the mandatory statutory
requirements for such eligibility within the Title IV
programs. By definition, the granting of Federal financial
assistance by a non-accredited institution is a violation of
the HEA. Second, because any granting of funds is erroneous,
I find that immediate action is necessary to prevent the
misuse of such federal funds. Third, given the fact that any
aid disbursed by an ineligible institution is erroneous, the
likelihood of loss does outweigh the importance of awaiting
the completion of the procedures for the termination of
eligibility. In conclusion, I find that the three
conditions enumerated at 34 CFR § 668.83 are met here.
As to Center's second claim, regarding alternative
accreditation by CAHEA, I find that accreditation of a
program does not satisfy the applicable statutes. The
Accreditation must by maintained by the institution, per se.
Programmatic accreditation, on its own, will not suffice.
Center's third claim is, in essence, that I should examine
the procedures employed by ABHES in withdrawing Center's
accreditation and find that they violated the notice
requirements of Due Process. Once making that determination,
I am urged to negate the emergency action. However, as the
hearing official assigned to review the appropriateness of
the emergency action, I am barred from considering challenges
to the propriety of the accrediting agency's termination of
an institution's accreditation. 34 CFR § 600.41(g)(1).
In conclusion, I find that the Respondent has failed to carry
its burden of establishing that the emergency action is
unwarranted. Having found that the three conditions for the
imposition of an emergency action are met in this case, I
hereby AFFIRM the emergency action.
Ernest C. Canellos
Dated: January 6, 1994