34 CFR § 602.36 - Senior Department official's decision.

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§ 602.36 Senior Department official's decision.

(a) The senior Department official makes a decision regarding recognition of an agency based on the record compiled under §§ 602.32, 602.33, 602.34, and 602.35 including, as applicable, the following:

(1) The materials provided to the Advisory Committee under § 602.34(c).

(2) The transcript of the Advisory Committee meeting.

(3) The recommendation of the Advisory Committee.

(4) Written comments and responses submitted under § 602.35.

(5) New documentation submitted in accordance with § 602.35(c)(1).

(6) A communication from the Secretary referring an issue to the senior Department official's consideration under § 602.37(e).

(b) In the event that statutory authority or appropriations for the Advisory Committee ends, or there are fewer duly appointed Advisory Committee members than needed to constitute a quorum, and under extraordinary circumstances when there are serious concerns about an agency's compliance with subpart B of this part that require prompt attention, the senior Department official may make a decision on an application for renewal of recognition or compliance report on the record compiled under § 602.32 or § 602.33 after providing the agency with an opportunity to respond to the final staff analysis. Any decision made by the senior Department official under this paragraph from the Advisory Committee may be appealed to the Secretary as provided in § 602.37.

(c) Following consideration of an agency's recognition under this section, the senior Department official issues a recognition decision.

(d) Except with respect to decisions made under paragraph (f) or (g) of this section and matters referred to the senior Department official under § 602.37(e) or (f), the senior Department official notifies the agency in writing of the senior Department official's decision regarding the agency's recognition within 90 days of the Advisory Committee meeting or conclusion of the review under paragraph (b) of this section.

(e) The senior Department official's decision may include, but is not limited to, approving for recognition; approving with a monitoring report; denying, limiting, suspending, or terminating recognition following the procedures in paragraph (g) of this section; granting or denying an application for an expansion of scope; revising or affirming the scope of the agency; or continuing recognition pending submission and review of a compliance report under §§ 602.32 and 602.34 and review of the report by the senior Department official under this section.

(1)

(i) The senior Department official approves recognition if the agency has demonstrated compliance or substantial compliance with the criteria for recognition listed in subpart B of this part. The senior Department official may determine that the agency has demonstrated compliance or substantial compliance with the criteria for recognition if the agency has a compliant policy or procedure in place but has not had the opportunity to apply such policy or procedure.

(ii) If the senior Department official approves recognition, the recognition decision defines the scope of recognition and the recognition period. The recognition period does not exceed five years, including any time during which recognition was continued to permit submission and review of a compliance report.

(iii) If the scope of recognition is less than that requested by the agency, the senior Department official explains the reasons for continuing or approving a lesser scope.

(2)

(i) Except as provided in paragraph (e)(3) of this section, if the agency fails to comply with the criteria for recognition listed in subpart B of this part, the senior Department official denies, limits, suspends, or terminates recognition.

(ii) If the senior Department official denies, limits, suspends, or terminates recognition, the senior Department official specifies the reasons for this decision, including all criteria the agency fails to meet and all criteria the agency has failed to apply effectively.

(3)

(i) If the senior Department official concludes an agency is noncompliant, the senior Department official may continue the agency's recognition, pending submission of a compliance report that will be subject to review in the recognition process, provided that -

(A) The senior Department official concludes that the agency will demonstrate compliance with, and effective application of, the criteria for recognition within 12 months from the date of the senior Department official's decision; or

(B) The senior Department official identifies a deadline more than 12 months from the date of the decision by which the senior Department official concludes the agency will demonstrate full compliance with, and effective application of, the criteria for recognition, and also identifies exceptional circumstances and good cause for allowing the agency more than 12 months to achieve compliance and effective application.

(ii) In the case of a compliance report ordered under paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section, the senior Department official specifies the criteria the compliance report must address, and the time period for achieving compliance and effective application of the criteria. The compliance report documenting compliance and effective application of criteria is due not later than 30 days after the end of the period specified in the senior Department official's decision.

(iii) If the record includes a compliance report required under paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section, and the senior Department official determines that an agency has not complied with the criteria for recognition, or has not effectively applied those criteria, during the time period specified by the senior Department official in accordance with paragraph (e)(3)(i) of this section, the senior Department official denies, limits, suspends, or terminates recognition, except, in extraordinary circumstances, upon a showing of good cause for an extension of time as determined by the senior Department official and detailed in the senior Department official's decision. If the senior Department official determines good cause for an extension has been shown, the senior Department official specifies the length of the extension and what the agency must do during it to merit a renewal of recognition.

(f) If the senior Department official determines that the agency is substantially compliant, or is fully compliant but has concerns about the agency maintaining compliance, the senior Department official may approve the agency's recognition or renewal of recognition and require periodic monitoring reports that are to be reviewed and approved by Department staff.

(g) If the senior Department official determines, based on the record, that a decision to deny, limit, suspend, or terminate an agency's recognition may be warranted based on a finding that the agency is noncompliant with one or more criteria for recognition, or if the agency does not hold institutions or programs accountable for complying with one or more of the agency's standards or criteria for accreditation that were not identified earlier in the proceedings as an area of noncompliance, the senior Department official provides -

(1) The agency with an opportunity to submit a written response addressing the finding; and

(2) The staff with an opportunity to present its analysis in writing.

(h) If relevant and material information pertaining to an agency's compliance with recognition criteria, but not contained in the record, comes to the senior Department official's attention while a decision regarding the agency's recognition is pending before the senior Department official, and if the senior Department official concludes the recognition decision should not be made without consideration of the information, the senior Department official either -

(1)

(i) Does not make a decision regarding recognition of the agency; and

(ii) Refers the matter to Department staff for review and analysis under § 602.32 or § 602.33, as appropriate, and consideration by the Advisory Committee under § 602.34; or

(2)

(i) Provides the information to the agency and Department staff;

(ii) Permits the agency to respond to the senior Department official and the Department staff in writing, and to include additional documentation relevant to the issue, and specifies a deadline;

(iii) Provides Department staff with an opportunity to respond in writing to the agency's submission under paragraph (h)(2)(ii) of this section, specifying a deadline; and

(iv) Issues a recognition decision based on the record described in paragraph (a) of this section, as supplemented by the information provided under this paragraph (h).

(i) No agency may submit information to the senior Department official, or ask others to submit information on its behalf, for purposes of invoking paragraph (h) of this section. Before invoking paragraph (h) of this section, the senior Department official will take into account whether the information, if submitted by a third party, could have been submitted in accordance with § 602.32(a) or § 602.33(e)(2).

(j) If the senior Department official does not reach a final decision to approve, deny, limit, suspend, or terminate an agency's recognition before the expiration of its recognition period, the senior Department official automatically extends the recognition period until a final decision is reached.

(k) Unless appealed in accordance with § 602.37, the senior Department official's decision is the final decision of the Secretary.

(Authority: 20 U.S.C. 1099b)
[84 FR 58929, Nov. 1, 2019]