ACE signed on to an amicus brief filed Friday in an accreditation case on appeal from a federal district court in Virginia, Professional Massage Training Center v. Accreditation Alliance of Career Schools and Colleges (AACSC).
The brief, submitted by 22 organizations, supports AACSC in its case with the Professional Massage Training Center (PMTC), a for-profit training school located in Missouri.
The district court judge ruled against AACSC in January after it revoked the school’s accreditation following an 18-month review process. In a highly unusual move, the judge did not rule on procedural or process grounds, but rather disagreed with the AACSC’s standards and the resulting judgment to deny accreditation. He also ordered damages to PMTC of roughly $429,000.
AACSC immediately appealed the decision to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit.
As the organizations write in their brief, other courts of appeal have addressed the extent to which a federal court may inject itself into the peer review accrediting system and have developed a standard that limits review to procedural or process issues.
The brief expresses concern that, if affirmed, the ruling could unravel the deference federal courts have historically extended to accrediting agencies, chill voluntary participation in the process by peer reviewers, and embolden other institutions to threaten litigation in an effort to overturn accrediting decisions.