The Accreditation Council for Education in Nutrition and Dietetics (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 or approved 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. Where a complainant has threatened or filed legal action against the institution involved, ACEND will hold complaints in abeyance pending resolution of the legal issues and the complainant is so advised.
- 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, 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 by express mail second day delivery for tracking purposes. The administrative officers of the institution or organization sponsoring the program, currently on file with ACEND, receive copies of the correspondence by first class mail. At the request of the complainant, the name of the complainant is "blocked out" within the body of the written complaint that is sent to the program.
- The ACEND chair requests the program to conduct a preliminary investigation and submit a report addressing the relevant accreditation standards or policies postmarked no more than 30 calendar days from receipt of the notification, as documented by the record of second day delivery.
- The ACEND chair may also request further information or materials relating to the complaint from the complainant, the institution or other sources.
- The ACEND chair appoints 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 works 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, scheduling an on-site visit of the program. If the complaint is substantiated and the ACEND board determines that the program is not in compliance with the accreditation standards or policies, the ACEND board may place the program on probation or withdraw accreditation or approval.
- The program director and administration of the sponsoring institution are notified of the ACEND board's decision and action in writing within two weeks of the decision. The complainant is notified of the final decision and action when the reconsideration and appeals process expires.
- The program has the right to request the ACEND board to reconsider a decision to place the program on probation or to withdraw accreditation or approval.
Updated January 2010