Hearing rules and procedures for Committee on Educational Allowances.
(a) Rule 1. The Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances will be in charge of the proceedings, will administer oaths or affirmations to witnesses, and will be responsible for the official conduct of the hearing. A majority of the members of the Committee will constitute a quorum. No party to the proceedings may conduct a voir dire of the Committee members.
(b) Rule 2. At the opening of the hearing, the Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances will inform the educational institution of the purpose of the hearing, the nature of the evidence of record relating to the asserted failures or violations, and the applicable provisions of law and VA regulations. The Chairperson will advise the VA Regional Counsel, or designee, representing VA, that the Committee on Educational Allowances will entertain any relevant evidence or witnesses which VA Counsel presents to the Committee and which would substantiate a decision by the Committee to recommend that the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction take an adverse action on the issues submitted for its review. The educational institution will be advised of its right to present any evidence, relevant to the issues submitted for the Committee's review, by oral or documentary evidence; to submit rebuttal evidence; to present and cross-examine witnesses; and to make such statements as may be appropriate on its behalf for a true and full disclosure of the facts. VA Counsel will be allowed to cross-examine any witnesses offered by the educational institution and to reply to any written briefs or arguments submitted to the Committee.
(c) Rule 3. Any testimony or evidence, either oral or written, which the Committee on Educational Allowances deems to be of probative value in deciding the question at issue will be admitted in evidence. While irrelevant, immaterial, or unduly repetitious evidence, testimony, or arguments should be excluded, reasonable latitude will be permitted with respect to the relevancy, materiality, and competency of evidence. In most instances the evidence will consist of official records of the educational institution and VA, and these documents may be attested to and introduced by affidavit; but the introduction of oral testimony by the educational institution or by VA will be allowed, as appropriate, in any instance where the educational institution or VA Counsel desires. VA, however, will neither subpoena any witness on behalf of the educational institution for such purposes nor bear any expenses in connection with the appearance of such witness. In instances where the evidence reasonably available consists of signed written statements, secondary or hearsay evidence, etc., such evidence may be introduced into the record and will be given the weight and consideration which the circumstances warrant.
(d) Rule 4. A verbatim stenographic or recorded transcript of the hearing will be made. This transcript will become a permanent part of the record, and a copy will be furnished to the educational institution and the VA Counsel at the conclusion of the proceeding, unless furnishing of the copy of the transcript is waived by the educational institution.
(e) Rule 5. The Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances will identify all exhibits in the order of introduction or receipt (numerically for VA exhibits and alphabetically for exhibits introduced by the educational institution). All such original exhibits or documents shall be attached to the original of the transcript. VA shall make photocopies or certified copies and attach them to the copy of the transcript furnished to the educational institution and the VA Counsel. The original transcript will accompany the Committee's recommendation to the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction along with all exhibits, briefs, or written statements received by the Committee during the course of the proceedings. Such documents should be clearly marked to indicate which were received into evidence and relied upon by the Committee in making its recommendations.
(f) Rule 6. The Committee on Educational Allowances, at its discretion, may reasonably limit the number of persons appearing at the hearing, including any affected individuals presented as witnesses by VA or the educational institution.
(g) Rule 7. Any person who is presented to testify will be required to be duly placed under oath or affirmation by the Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances. If an official of the educational institution desires to present a statement personally, the individual will be required to be placed under oath or affirmation. The Chairperson will advise each witness that the Committee understands that he or she is voluntarily appearing before the Committee; that any testimony or statement given will be considered as being completely voluntary; and that no one has authority to require the individual to make any statement or answer any question against his or her will before the Committee, except that a person called as a witness on behalf of either VA or the educational institution must be willing to submit to cross-examination with respect to testimony given. Each witness will also be advised that his or her testimony or statement, if false, even though voluntary, may subject him or her to prosecution under Federal statutes.
(h) Rule 8. Any member of the Committee on Educational Allowances may question any witness presented to testify at the hearing or either a representative of the educational institution or the VA Counsel concerning matters that are relevant to the question at issue. Generally, questioning by a Committee member will be limited to the extent of clarifying information on the facts and issues involved.
(i) Rule 9. If the educational institution fails to timely notify the Committee of its intent to participate in a hearing or if a representative of the educational institution is scheduled to appear for a hearing but, without good cause, fails to appear either in person or by writing, the Committee will proceed with the hearing and will review the case on the basis of the evidence of record which shall be presented by the VA Counsel.
(j) Rule 10. Any objection by an authorized representative of the educational institution or the VA Counsel on a ruling by the Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances regarding the admissibility of testimony or other evidence submitted will be made a matter of record, together with the substance in brief of the testimony intended or other evidence concerned. If the other evidence concerned is in the form of an affidavit or other document, it may be accepted for filing as a future reference if it is later ruled admissible as part of the record of the hearing.
(k) Rule 11. Objections relating to the jurisdiction or membership of the Committee on Educational Allowances or the constitutionality of statutes or the constitutionality of, or statutory authority for, VA regulations, are not before the Committee for decision. The time of the Committee will not be used to hear arguments in this regard. However, any such matters outside the province of the Committee may be the subject of a brief or a letter for consideration by the VA Office of General Counsel upon completion of the hearing. The ruling of such authority upon such issues will be obtained and included in the record before the Committee's recommendations are submitted to the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction. If the VA General Counsel's ruling on such legal issues necessitates reopening the proceeding, that shall be done before the Committee makes its recommendations to the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction.
(m) Rule 13. The hearing will be conducted in an orderly manner with dignity and decorum. The conduct of members of the Committee on Educational Allowances, the VA Counsel, and any representatives of the educational institution shall be characterized by appropriate impartiality, fairness, and cooperation. The Chairperson of the Committee shall take such action as may be necessary, including suspension of the hearing or the removal of the offending person from the hearing room for misbehavior, disorderly conduct, or the persistent disregard of the Chairperson's ruling. Where this occurs, the Chairperson will point out that the Committee is entitled to every possible consideration in order that the case may be presented clearly and fully, which may be accomplished only through observance of orderly procedures.
(n) Rule 14. The Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances will conduct the hearing proceedings in such a manner that will protect from disclosure information which tends to disclose or compromise investigative sources or methods or which would violate the privacy of any individual. The salient facts, which form the basis of charges, may be disclosed and discussed without revealing the source.
(o) Rule 15. At the close of the hearing, the Chairperson of the Committee on Educational Allowances shall inform the appropriate representative of the educational institution that the arguments and the evidence presented will be given careful consideration; and that notice of the decision of the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction, together with the Committee's recommendations, will be furnished to the educational institution and the VA Counsel at the earliest possible time. The Chairperson will also indicate that notice of the Director's decision will be published in the Federal Register for the information of all other interested persons.
(p) Rule 16. In making its findings of facts and recommendations, the Committee on Educational Allowances will consider only questions which are referred to it by the Director of the VA Regional Processing Office of jurisdiction as being at issue and which are within the jurisdiction of the Committee.