West Virginia Business College’s Permit To Operate Revoked by West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education
West Virginia Business College lacks accreditation
CHARLESTON — Citing West Virginia Business College’s failure to gain accreditation for the 2017-18 school year and its inability to offer its students financial aid, the West Virginia Council for Community and Technical College Education on Thursday revoked the college’s permit to operate in West Virginia, effective June 30.
West Virginia Business College has 20 days to appeal the council’s decision. Multiple messages left for John Tarr, the business college’s president, and Julie Magers, campus director in Wheeling, were not immediately returned Thursday.
The immediate impact, outside of the potential shutdown of the school, is that those set to graduate this spring may not be able to receive a diploma, as West Virginia Business College loses its accreditation April 30. Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical Colleges, said the final decision on that matter would be up to the U.S. Department of Education.
“Historically, the federal government has said diplomas are only recognized from accredited institutions,” she said. “We have a phone call in to the department of education, and we are trying to set up a call for next week on this matter. Ultimately, it’s a federal decision.”
The business college, which has operations at 1052 Main St. in downtown Wheeling and Nutter Fort, W.Va., just south of Clarksburg, had its accreditation pulled late last year by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools. A letter from the Washington, D.C.-based council dated Dec. 22 listed 29 findings by the governing body that led to its decision not to renew the business college’s accreditation, which will formally expire April 30.
Among those findings were concerns with faculty credentials, learning resources, financial aid processes and transparency with students concerning their financial aid and student loans.
The business college had sought more time to dispute the accrediting council’s findings, but an April 7 hearing by the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools “found no credible basis upon which to summon confidence that additional time would serve to assure the institution’s compliance.” That led the accrediting body to reaffirm its decision to deny West Virginia Business College’s accreditation, noting that no further appeals process could take place.
The West Virginia Council for Community and Technical Colleges, in its unanimous decision Thursday, cited a section in the governing rules of business, occupation and trade schools that reads, “The Council may for good cause suspend, withdraw or revoke authorization of a school to operate in this state or to solicit students within the state. Good cause shall consist of loss of accreditation by a nationally or regionally recognized accrediting agency.”
The state council also noted its staff would be in contact with West Virginia Business College officials “to arrange for an appropriate teach out and/or transfer plan for students currently enrolled in classes at WVBC.”
Sarah Tucker, chancellor of the Council for Community and Technical Colleges, said West Virginia Junior College, located in Bridgeport, W.Va., already has offered to provide assistance to displaced West Virginia Business College students if the Wheeling-based school closes.
“They have quite a few of the same programs, so if this goes through, we should be able to transfer students without any problem,” Tucker said. “Our goal is to make sure we find ways to help the students — they are our priority.”
The latest accreditation issue isn’t the first for West Virginia Business College, according to documents released during Thursday’s meeting in Charleston.
According to the final action from the Accrediting Council on Independent Colleges and Schools, the 29 actions discovered in December “were substantially similar to findings of noncompliance made back in December 2013.”
“It took (West Virginia Business College) multiple attempts over approximately 18 months to address these (2013) findings,” with compliance being reached in April 2015, the Accrediting Council’s report stated. “Given the very protracted time it took for the institution to demonstrate compliance in early 2015, the Council expected that the institution would continue to be in compliance when it conducted the next evaluation in late 2016.
Instead, the Council found the institution again to be significantly out of compliance.”
The college also has been hit on another front this year. Shortly after learning its accreditation was in jeopardy, an audit and review revealed deficiencies in the college’s accounting practices for the Higher Education Grant Program, with West Virginia Business College ordered to return $68,000 to the state in “misappropriated funds.”
In early February, the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission, which administers that grant program, voted to have the business college removed from the program, which provides financial aid to students.