The Accreditation Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (ACAOM) has placed South Baylo University on probationary accreditation through Feb. 4, 2008. According to the official ACAOM statement, the probationary action was based on a determination of the University's noncompliance with the following policies: "Sections 3.11.6 and 3.11.8(7) Notification and ACAOM Prior Approval of Substantive Changes; Section 3.11.8 (5) Providing Full and Accurate Information Requested by the Commission; and Section 7.6 Policy Statement on Integrity in the Accreditation Process."
During this period, the university is required to do the following:
- Submit a supplemental report demonstrating that its implementation and operation of any programs in addition to its ACAOM-accredited Master's program, specifically including its first professional doctoral program offerings have not, and will not, affect the ability of the University to continue to meet ACAOM accreditation standards.
- Host an ACAOM interim site visit to assess the impact of any programs offered by the University that are outside the scope of ACAOM's accreditation on the University's compliance with ACAOM standards; and
- If the University wishes to commence its DAOM program previously approved by the Commission pursuant to its substantive change policies, it must do so within six months and submit an application for ACAOM candidacy status for that program no earlier than 12 months and no later than 18 months after students are first enrolled in the DAOM program consistent with ACAOM's policies.
South Baylo posted a notice on its Web site announcing that it had been placed on probationary accreditation by the ACAOM. According to South Baylo: "The probation is based upon ACAOM's determination of noncompliance with ACAOM policies regarding approval of substantive changes and providing information requested by the Commission. South Baylo disputes ACAOM's determining concerning these matters, but in order to focus its resources on continuing to strengthen its education programs and further its educational mission, has decided to withdraw its appeal of ACAOM's determination. Probation does not adversely affect the University's ACAOM accreditation. Moreover, ACAOM's determination of noncompliance was not based upon a finding of any deficiency in the quality of the education programs provided by South Baylo." In addition, South Baylo also announced that it "dismissed a complaint filed in federal court in California against ACAOM after the parties entered into a settlement agreement, the terms of which are confidential."
The ACAOM declined to elaborate on its probationary findings, and South Baylo did not comment beyond the statement posted to its Web site. It remains unclear exactly what violations occurred relating to South Baylo's implementation of a doctoral program. However, the accreditation handbook for the ACAOM does spell out what is required to maintain accreditation and avoid probation or a complete withdrawal of accreditation status.
In Section 3.11.6 Notification of Institutional Changes, the handbook clearly states: "An accredited program must notify the Commission with full and complete supporting documentation within 30 days of inception or installation of any of the following non-substantive changes in material fact or condition. Any of these changes may result in further inquiry, request for additional information and/or a review and action by the Commission." The handbook goes on to state that "substantive changes require prior notice by the program and advance approval by the Commission. Plans for substantive changes, except as otherwise noted, are to be reported with full and complete documentation to the Commission at least 90 days in advance of the change to permit approval before the change is instituted."
The handbook states that a program will be placed on probationary status if: "evidence of progress toward rectifying the areas of concern noted in the accreditation action letter is lacking; the circumstances under which the program was accredited are substantially altered; the program appears to be in substantial noncompliance with any of the commission's essential requirements or criteria; or the program violates the commission's procedures."
In reference to the policy statement on integrity, the handbook states: "ACAOM is responsible for assuring the preservation of the highest standards of integrity in the accreditation of programs in the acupuncture and Oriental medicine field. ACAOM believes that the integrity of a program is manifested and judged by the professional competence, experience, personal responsibility and ethical practices evidenced by each and all individuals constituting ownership, control and/or administration of a program."
Through this probationary period, the ACAOM can determine, "for good cause, to take other action consistent with its standards, policies and procedures."