A federal district court in Virginia has smacked down the Accreditation Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC) for its arbitrary and unreasonable attempts to hound a tiny massage training school out of business.
As a result, the ACCSC now owes Professional Massage Training School (PMTC) in Springfield, Mo. exactly $429,016.62.
The verdict, issued on Friday by U.S. district judge Liam O’Grady, marks the first time a federal court has required the ACCSC to pay money to one of its member schools.
The 20-page district court opinion focuses primarily on a due process claim, the only claim (out of a handful) upon which PMTC prevailed.
The court found that the ACCSC was wrong to de-accredit the for-profit massage therapy school because it (1) focused on certain aspects of the school but ignored others, (2) relied on information that was both false and irrelevant and (3) failed to adhere to its own procedures and policies when it decided to revoke PMTC’s accreditation.
More broadly, the court also held that all accreditation agencies must provide at least a modicum of due process because they are “gatekeepers to Title IV financial aid funds administered by the Department of Education.”
Attorneys for PMTC and its owner, Juliet Mee, were obviously satisfied with the ruling.
“This decision is a victory for justice over arrogant, vindictive and lawless conduct by an entity — the ACCSC — which, in my opinion, does not deserve to be trusted, much less arrogated crediting power, by the Department of Education, directly or indirectly,” one of Mee’s attorneys, Lanny Davis, told The Daily Caller.
The ACCSC maintained that it had denied PMTC’s application for renewed accreditation because Mee managed the school poorly. Another charge was that the massage school had an unacceptable number of books on its campus.
The court found these reasons wanting.
The court found that Mee was an objectively competent manager and, in fact, that the ACCSC’s standards provide no practical guidance for what constitutes good management.
Various statements by the ACCSC personnel sent to evaluate the school showed that that they disliked Mee personally, the court said, and the accreditor’s standards amounted to little more than pathetically circular bureaucratic obstacles.
In short, “PMTC lost its accreditation because it was not adept enough at maintaining accreditation.”
“PMTC’s graduation rates are good,” the court said. “[I]ts job placement rates are excellent. The school enjoys high satisfaction ratings from its students.”