DEAC’s goal is to permit a fair and timely investigation of complaints against DEAC-accredited institutions or active DEAC applicants concerning non-compliance with DEAC standards and policies. DEAC’s accreditation standards and policies can be found in Part Two, Section XXII of the DEAC Accreditation Handbook.
DEAC’s Online Complaint System enables individuals to file a complaint directly using the DEAC website. The complaint form is located at the bottom of this webpage. Written complaints will also be accepted by mail or other form of effective delivery to DEAC, provided they include (1) the complainant’s name and contact information (2) the basis of any allegation of noncompliance with DEAC standards and procedures; (3) all relevant names and dates and a brief description of the actions forming the basis of the complaint; (4) copies of any available documents or materials that support the allegations; and (5) a release authorizing DEAC to forward a copy of the complaint, including identification of the complainant(s) to the institution. Written complaints may be submitted to:
1101 17th Street NW, Suite 808
Washington, DC 20036
The Distance Education Accrediting Commission expects complainants and institutions to demonstrate genuine effort in resolving disputes directly using the institution’s internal grievance procedures. Where issues or educational services, student services, or tuition are concerned, a student complainant must have exhausted all efforts to resolve a complaint with the institution before filing a complaint with DEAC. The complainant must demonstrate that appropriate procedures have been followed to resolve the complaint with the institution (which may include claim numbers, grievance files and emails) prior to filing a claim with DEAC.
Where issues of educational quality or compliance with DEAC standards or policies are not central to the complaint, DEAC will refer the complainant to the appropriate federal or state agency or private entity with jurisdiction over the subject matter of the complaint.
DEAC will not intervene on behalf of individuals in cases of a personnel action, nor will it review an institution’s internal administrative decisions in such matters as admissions decisions, academic honesty, assignment of grades and similar matters unless the context of an allegation suggests a violation of DEAC standards or policies or if the context of an allegation suggests that unethical or unprofessional conduct or action may have occurred that might call into question the institution’s compliance with a DEAC standard or policy.
Further, DEAC will not intervene on behalf of individuals in cases where the situation giving rise to the complaint had occurred so long ago that investigating and ascertaining the facts might prove to be problematic.
In cases where written anonymous complaints are received, DEAC will consider how to proceed and whether the anonymous complaint sets forth reasonable and credible information that an institution may be in violation of the Commission’s standards.
DEAC Complaint Procedure
- After receipt of the complaint, DEAC staff will send a letter or e-mail to the complainant acknowledging receipt of the complaint.
- DEAC will complete an initial review of the complaint within fifteen business days following its receipt to determine whether it sets forth information or allegations that reasonably suggest that an institution may not be in compliance with DEAC’s standards and procedures. If additional information or clarification is required, before DEAC believes it can pursue a further investigation of the complaint, DEAC will so notify the complainant and request the complainant provide the additional information. Failure of the complainant to provide such additional information may result in DEAC determining that the complaint cannot be effectively investigated.
- If DEAC determines after the initial review of the complaint that the information or allegations do not reasonably demonstrate that an institution is out of compliance with DEAC standards or procedures or that the complainant has not provided sufficient information on which DEAC can evaluate it, the complaint will not be further investigated by DEAC and the complainant will be notified of such a disposition and the reasons.
- If DEAC determines after the initial review of the complaint that the information or allegations reasonably suggest that an institution may not be in compliance with DEAC standards and procedures, the DEAC will provide a copy of the original complaint to the institution and direct the institution to provide a response to the complaint within 30 days following such notice with the following exceptions:
- In cases of advertising violations, when DEAC staff forwards a copy of the advertisement at issue to the institution, citing the standard that might have been violated. The institution is required to respond within 15 days of receiving such notice.
- If a news article or media broadcast carries a negative report on a DEAC accredited institution, or any of its owners, senior management, or executives, the institution is required to respond to the statement(s) within 15 days.
- In cases when the complaints are from students concerning administrative services, student services, educational services, or tuition, the institution will be required to respond directly to the student within 15 days to address his/her concerns. The institution must also respond to DEAC within 15 days; such response must include, at minimum, a copy of the response sent to the student.
- The failure of the institution to provide either a response to the complaint or any additional information as requested by the executive director within the specified time frames will be considered a violation of DEAC’s policy on complaints and will be referred to the Commission for consideration and action. The complainant will be notified when a request for a response from the institution has been delivered by DEAC. The Executive Director will review the complaint and the institution’s response for compliance with the accrediting standards, policies, and procedures.
- If, following review of the institutional response to the complaint, DEAC concludes that the allegations in the complaint have been rebutted or resolved by the institution, the complainant and the institution will be notified of such resolution.
- If DEAC concludes following review of the institution’s first response to the complaint, that the allegations may establish that there has been a violation of DEAC standards and/or procedures, DEAC may take additional action. See the DEAC Accreditation Handbook for more information.
The DEAC Online Complaint Form is not intended to be used to submit general inquires or questions. These should be sent to the DEAC via email.