WASC-ACCJC Removes ASCC from Show Cause Sanction

By James Kneubuhl, ASCC Press Officer

Published on February 18, 2016, Issue 3

In early February, the American Samoa Community College (ASCC) received official correspondence from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC), a subsidiary of the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC), stating that the Commission, during its January meeting, has taken the action pertaining to ASCC of "Removed Show Cause and Issued Warning on the Basis of a Show Cause Report with Visit." This comes 12 months after WASC-ACCJC issued a “Show Cause” sanction to ASCC in February 2015.

The correspondence, from WASC-ACCJC President Dr. Barbara Beno, clarifies that, while ASCC is still required to take additional action, the College has successfully addressed the majority of non-compliance issues for which it was initially sanctioned. “Following the Commission’s review of the October 2015 Show Cause Report and Show Cause Evaluation Team Report,” Dr. Beno writes, “the Commission finds the College has resolved most of the deficiencies in meeting standards and only remains out of compliance with three Standards. ASCC must resolve the remaining deficiencies and meet the three remaining Standards by October 2016. This deadline falls within the two-year period permitted by federal regulations.”

WASC-ACCJC has determined that ASCC remains in non-compliance with Standards I.A.2, I.B.3 and 1.B.6, but is now in compliance with all of the other twenty-four standards cited in the initial sanction. “The Commission wises to acknowledge the large amount of work ASCC has done to comply with Standards,” writes Dr. Beno, “and to encourage the institution to complete the work to meet the remaining standards noted.”

The WASC-ACCJC website describes the Warning sanction as action taken when "the institution has acknowledged serious noncompliance, has demonstrated affirmative steps, and plans to fully resolve the deficiencies within twelve months.” The Commission specifies the time within which the institution must resolve the deficiencies and demonstrate compliance, generally twelve to eighteen months. During the Warning Period, the institution will be subject to reports and visits at a frequency to be determined by the Commission. The accredited status of the institution continues during the Warning Period.

Actions on sanctions that are issued by WASC-ACCJC include: (1) Warning, (2) Probation, and (3) Show Cause precluding Commission actions to withdraw accreditation from an institution. The Commission modifying the Show Cause sanction to Warning marks a highly significant action indicating the progress ASCC has made and affirmative steps it has taken to address the concerns specified by WASC-ACCJC following a 2014 site visit which precluded the issuing of the Show Cause sanction in February 2015.

Upon receiving Dr. Beno’s correspondence, then-Acting ASCC President Dr. Rosevonne Makaiwi-Pato, on behalf of President Dr. Seth Galea’i, shared the news with the College’s faculty and staff, although public notice was not made until the Board of Higher Education were informed of the WASC-ACCJC action at their most recent meeting. “I want to thank the entire institution for your dedication, commitment, collaboration, student centeredness, and respect for one another throughout the Show Cause sanction period,” wrote Dr. Makaiwi-Pato in a memo to the many ASCC stakeholders who had participated in the year-long effort to address compliance issues.

“The Commission’s action to remove Show Cause and to Issue Warning highlights the true essence of the core values of the ASCC family,” Dr. Makaiwi-Pato continued. “It is a very momentous day for all of us, and a time to celebrate the work that we have done together in our move forward toward achievement of our mission.”