By CASEY JUNKINS
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
WHEELING, W.Va. — West Virginia Business College’s accrediting agency did not renew its certification, but school officials said they already intended to move in a different direction because the U.S. Department of Education no longer recognizes the accrediting organization in question.
Although some fear this could jeopardize the college’s future or endanger the federal financial aid students are receiving, school officials said they expect the transition from one accrediting agency to another to be “seamless, with no impact on students.”
The business college, located at 1052 Main St. in Wheeling with a satellite campus in Nutter Fort, W.Va., now holds certification with the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools. A letter from the Washington, D.C.-based council dated Dec. 22 lists several reasons the governing body chose not to renew the college’s accreditation, which will formally expire April 30.
“It is especially disconcerting that some students and faculty have claimed that the campus is taking out loans without student approval and other students are convinced that the school is ‘stealing their money,’” the ACICS letter asserts.
“The surgical technology program administrator does not have the qualifications to administer or teach in the program,” the letter adds.
“The medical assisting and paralegal programs do not incorporate the use of appropriate experiences and learning materials.”
College officials declined to address the specific allegations by the ACICS. However, college officials highlight the fact the ACICS organization no longer is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. A statement dated Dec. 12 features Department of Education Secretary John B. King Jr. declaring that ACICS is no longer a federally recognized accrediting agency.
“When we find that an accrediting agency is not effectively protecting students, and is putting taxpayer funding at risk, we will use every tool we have to hold it accountable — just as Congress requires and families expect,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Education Ted Mitchell.
“In this case, that means that we more closely monitor their schools in the absence of a reliable accreditor.”
In response to the ongoing concerns, college Campus Director Julie Magers said school officials have “already begun the process of establishing accreditation through another accrediting body.”
“We do not anticipate any issues in receiving full accreditation within 18 months. We expect the process to be seamless, with no impact on students. As West Virginia Business College campuses transition to another recognized accrediting agency, campus operations and the students’ education will continue uninterrupted as before,”she said.
“The (Department of Education’s) actions involving ACICS were not in any way related to West Virginia Business College. The actions were the result of issues that are national in scope. Unfortunately, ACICS-accredited schools, such as West Virginia Business College, must deal with the fallout,” Magers added.
Meanwhile, officials with the ACICS are suing the Department of Education in an attempt to maintain the body’s status as an accrediting agency, with a hearing in the matter set for Feb. 1.
According to the institution’s catalog, West Virginia Business College began in Clarksburg in 1881. The college offers courses of study in business management, accounting, paralegal, data processing, information technology and medical technology.
Attempts to reach students of the college for comment were unsuccessful.
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