Wyoming passes law requiring accreditation candidacy

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Wyoming passes law requiring accreditation candidacy

Postby g-gollin » Fri Mar 17, 2006 4:46 am

Wyoming has passed "AN ACT relating to private school licensing... The vote was strongly in favor ot the bill: 51 for, 7 against in the House and 27 for, 3 against in the Senate. It was signed by the governor a few days ago.

As I understand it, the bill requires a post-secondary institution granting degrees to Wyoming citiizens to be accredited, or to be a candidate for accreditation. I am unclear about the status of religious exemptions for schools.

A digest and legislative history of the bill is available here: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2006/Digest/SF0069.htm. The end stages of the bill's passage are these:

=========================================
3/7/2006 H[ouse] Passed 3rd Reading

ROLL CALL
Ayes: Representative(s) Alden, Bagby, Barnard, Berger, Brown, Buchanan, Childers, Cohee, Davison, Diercks, Edwards, Esquibel, Gay, Gilmore, Gingery, Goggles, Hammons, Harshman, Harvey, Hastert, Hinckley, Iekel, Jones, Jorgensen, Landon, Lockhart, Lubnau, Luthi, Martin, McOmie, Mercer, Meuli, Morgan, Olsen, Osborn, Pedersen, Petersen, Powers, Quarberg, Reese, Robinson, Samuelson, Simpson, Slater, Thompson, Walsh, Warren, Wasserburger, Watt, White and Zwonitzer.

Nays: Representative(s) Anderson, R., Brechtel, Hageman, Illoway, Miller, Philp and Semlek.

Excused: Representative(s) Bucholz and Jackson.

Ayes 51 Nays 7 Excused 2 Absent 0 Conflicts 0
=========================================
3/8/2006 S[enate] Did Concur

ROLL CALL

Ayes: Senator(s) Anderson, J., Aullman, Barrasso, Boggs, Burns, Coe, Cooper, Decaria, Geis, Hawks, Hines, Jennings, Job, Johnson, Larson, Massie, Meier, Mockler, Nicholas, Peck, Peterson, Ross, Schiffer, Scott, Townsend, Vasey and Von Flatern.

Nays: Senator(s) Case, Hanes and Sessions.

Ayes 27 Nays 3 Excused 0 Absent 0 Conflicts 0

=========================================
3/8/2006 Assigned Number SEA0031
=========================================
3/8/2006 S[enate] President Signed SEA No. 0031
=========================================
3/9/2006 H[ouse] Speaker Signed SEA No. 0031
=========================================
3/10/2006 Governor Signed SEA0031
=========================================
3/10/2006 Assigned Chapter Number
=========================================
Chapter No. 0034 Session Laws of Wyoming 2006.


Take note of the no vote in the Wyoming Senate from Sen. Kathryn Sessions, D-Cheyenne. In a May 9, 2005 Associated Press story by Mead Gruver it was reported that

Wyoming Department of Education officials say that state law requires them to inspect any campus of any Wyoming-licensed private university, anywhere in the world, with the school covering all expenses.

So, last fall, two department officials visited campuses of Cheyenne-based Preston University in the United Arab Emirates, Pakistan and Britain. Two state senators also went, and Preston also paid their way.

Seven months later, the four have little to show from the 10-day trip.

For example, each of three inspection reports by Deputy Superintendent Quinn Carroll and the department's finance director, Fred Hansen, was about 1-1/2-pages - about as long as the application form for opening a private fish farm in Wyoming.

The reports conclude that the Preston campuses in Ajman, Islamabad and London were mostly in compliance with Wyoming law.

And, while neither Sen. Jim Anderson, R-Glenrock, nor Sen. Kathryn Sessions, D-Cheyenne, has formally reported on their perspective of the trip, Sessions came back and, with the backing of Preston Chancellor Jerry Haenisch, submitted a bill that could have helped the school.

The bill sought to remove several specific laws for private-school licensing from statute in favor of new rules overseen by the state Board of Education.

"I can't see how anyone has any problem with a decently priced education with nontraditional students," she said...

But the Pakistani government has reached a less-complimentary conclusion.

In February, based on its own inspections and rules, Pakistan's Higher Education Commission classified all 15 Preston campuses in that country as "seriously deficient" or "illegally operating." The Islamabad campus was deemed "seriously deficient."...


Here is an interesting section of text from the bill:

21-2-402. Licensure; registration of private degree granting post secondary education institutions; fees; suspension and revocation; notification upon entry into state.

...

(b) Except as provided by subsection (f) of this section, private degree granting post secondary education institutions shall annually apply to the department of education for registration under this article. Application shall be in a manner and on a form prescribed by the department and shall include documentation or other verification of accreditation by an accrediting association recognized by the United States department of education or verification of candidacy or verification of otherwise being in the application process status for accreditation. Except as otherwise provided under this subsection, an annual registration fee of one hundred dollars ($100.00) shall be collected by the department prior to issuing a registration certificate under this article. If the applicant is a candidate for accreditation or is otherwise in the application process for accreditation, and the applicant submits verification of candidacy or application status together with a performance bond or other form of security required under W.S. 21-2-405, the department shall collect an annual registration fee of one thousand dollars ($1,000.00) for each year the applicant institution remains a candidate or continues the application process, up to a period of not to exceed five (5) years, until the institution receives accreditation or upon refusal of accreditation by the accrediting association, whichever first occurs. The period of candidacy or otherwise in the application process status expires at the end of the five (5) year period or at the time the applicant is refused candidacy or application status or accreditation by the accrediting association, or otherwise loses candidacy or application status, whichever occurs first, and the applicant shall not operate or conduct business in this state unless, upon a showing of good cause by the applicant, the department finds the five (5) year period of candidacy or applicant status should be extended. As used in this article, "candidate for accreditation or otherwise in the application process" means that within three (3) months of first enrolling students, or by July 1, 2006, for any private degree granting post secondary education institution licensed to operate or do business under this article prior to July 1, 2006, the private degree granting post secondary education institution has applied for accreditation by an accrediting association recognized by the United States department of education and is being considered for candidacy status or for accreditation by that association and is in the process of gathering information and performing activities requested by that association to complete the application process.

...

(d) Subject to the requirements of the Wyoming Administrative Procedure Act, the state board department may suspend or revoke a license registration certificate issued under this section to any private degree granting post secondary education institution for loss of accreditation status or loss of accreditation candidacy or application status during any registration period.


Well how about that!
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Postby John Bear » Fri Mar 17, 2006 6:09 am

Yay.

Five years is a long time to be given to qualify, but the Wyoming wonders must apply for recognized accreditation by July of this year. And no grandfathering in, as New Mexico did, thank goodness.

With Mississippi showing signs of comparable action, we may be left with Alabama as the only haven (in the US) for the bad guys.
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Postby naig » Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:06 am

John Bear wrote:Yay.

Five years is a long time to be given to qualify, but the Wyoming wonders must apply for recognized accreditation by July of this year. And no grandfathering in, as New Mexico did, thank goodness.

With Mississippi showing signs of comparable action, we may be left with Alabama as the only haven (in the US) for the bad guys.


Except that it only catches graduates in the home State - GG quoted "...the bill requires a post-secondary institution granting degrees [u]to Wyoming citiizens to be accredited..."[/u]
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Postby John Bear » Fri Mar 17, 2006 7:33 am

Oh, that's really disappointing. Kennedy-Western will just add Wyoming to the list of states from which they don't accept students (such as California), and go meerrily along enrolling students in the rest of the world.

Knowledgable people can say, "Gee, if they can't take students from the state from which they are run, or the state from which they claim their license, maybe you should think twice." But the vast majority of potential students won't know this.
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Postby davidhume » Fri Mar 17, 2006 9:10 am

[quote="John Bear"]Oh, that's really disappointing. Kennedy-Western will just add Wyoming to the list of states from which they don't accept students (such as California), and go meerrily along enrolling students in the rest of the world.

Knowledgable people can say, "Gee, if they can't take students from the state from which they are run, or the state from which they claim their license, maybe you should think twice." But the vast majority of potential students won't know this.[/quote]

Yes. That clause of the Act really undermines what we all hope it would achieve.
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Did I miss something?

Postby Gus Sainz » Fri Mar 17, 2006 10:55 am

I am not a lawyer, but I have read the bill in its entirety, and I can’t seem to find any language indicating that this bill applies ONLY to post-secondary institution granting degrees to Wyoming citizens.

Instead, it seems pretty clear to me that the legislation applies to any private degree granting post secondary education institution doing business or operating in the state.

    21-2-401.(b) Any private degree granting post secondary education institution shall prior to operating or doing business in this state or continuing to operate or do business in this state, notify the department of education pursuant to W.S. 21-2-402(f) or be registered with the department in accordance with this article. In addition, the applicant shall maintain physical facilities as office space which is located in the state either through property owned by the institution or through office space which is subject to a current lease at the time of application. The term of any lease shall be for a minimum of one (1) year from its inception and lease renewal shall be for periods of not less than one (1) year. In addition to W.S. 21-2-402(b)(vi), the institution shall provide the state department a copy of each new lease or lease renewal executed while holding a license under this article. The designated office space shall be staffed on a full-time basis by an employee of the institution. In addition, the institution shall provide the state department with evidence that substantive academic and student service-related activity is conducted at this designated location.

The only schools that are exempt from the new registration procedure are those that are exempt under W.S 21-2-406, the wording of which remains unchanged by this bill.

    21-2-406. Schools exempted; additional requirements for specified post secondary religious schools.

      (a) This article does not apply to:

        (i) Any parochial, church or religious school as defined by W.S. 21-4-101(a)(iv) which is maintained by a church, religious denomination or religious organization comprised of multidenominational members of the same recognized religion, lawfully operating the school or institution pursuant to applicable laws governing its organization, and the school or institution:

          (A) Offers elementary and secondary education programs only; or

          (B) Operates only as a post secondary education degree granting institution if post secondary education programs are limited to instruction in the principles of that church, religious denomination or religious organization and the diploma or degree is limited to evidence of completion of these post secondary education programs, subject to the following:

            (I) A disclosure is made by the institution on all documents submitted to potential and enrolled students and on all institutional marketing materials which clearly states the institution claims an exemption under this article, that the institution is not accredited by an accreditation association recognized by the United States department of education and is not licensed as a private school by this state;

            (II) Diplomas or degrees issued by the institution are restricted to the beliefs and practices of the affiliated church, religious denomination or religious organization and include a statement on the face of the diploma or degree referencing the theological or religious nature of the subject area for which the diploma or degree is awarded, clearly reflecting the nature of the degree title as "Associate of Religious Studies", "Bachelor of Religious Studies", "Master of Divinity" or "Doctor of Divinity"; and

            (III) Evidence of nonprofit religious organization status for purposes of federal taxation and organization under the laws of this state is annually filed by the institution with the state department.

        (ii) A home-based educational program as defined by W.S. 21-4-101(a)(v);

        (iii) Aircraft flight training schools approved and authorized by the federal aviation agency of the United States of America; or

        (iv) A nondegree granting school teaching techniques of outdoor recreation, leadership, ecology or conservation domiciled in the state of Wyoming.

      (b) Any post secondary education degree granting institution not accredited by an accreditation association recognized by the United States department of education and which is not exempt under subparagraph (a)(i)(B) of this section shall as required by W.S. 21-2-401(a), obtain a license under this article prior to operating or doing business in this state. The institution may conduct organizational activities and start up preparations before obtaining the license required under W.S. 21-2-401(a), but shall not accept any tuition, application fees or any similar monies from any prospective student before obtaining the license.


Of course, being that the new legislation did not change the language of W.S 21-2-406(b), it seems as there might be bit of a conflict, as it requires unaccredited post secondary education degree granting institutions to obtain a license under W.S. 21-2-401(a), which the new bill did change so that this no longer applies to post secondary education degree granting institutions.
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Postby davidhume » Fri Mar 17, 2006 11:32 am

I guess that what you are saying, Gus, is that the legislation applies to all degree granting institutions, whether they offer their courses to Wyoming citizens or not. Hence, they all need to be in the process of applying for RA. Is this correct?
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Postby Bill Huffman » Fri Mar 17, 2006 3:47 pm

So, what will KWU decide to do? Here's my guesses in likelihood order

1. Move to Alabama
2. Move to Hawaii
3. Move off-shore
4. Close up shop
5. Take over the world and go where ever they want
6. Become DETC accredited
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Postby RobbCD » Fri Mar 17, 2006 4:06 pm

davidhume wrote:I guess that what you are saying, Gus, is that the legislation applies to all degree granting institutions, whether they offer their courses to Wyoming citizens or not. Hence, they all need to be in the process of applying for RA. Is this correct?


Why RA? Why not DETC, ACICS or ACCSCT? Each of these accreditors are recognized by the US DoE and each of them accredit schools that offer DL programs.
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Postby Gus Sainz » Fri Mar 17, 2006 6:54 pm

RobbCD wrote:Why RA? Why not DETC, ACICS or ACCSCT? Each of these accreditors are recognized by the US DoE and each of them accredit schools that offer DL programs.


Indeed. Any accreditor recognized by the United States department of education is acceptable in terms of compliance with this legislation.

To me, the most troublesome wording of the legislation is, “or verification of otherwise being in the application process status for accreditation,” as that can vary considerably from one accreditor to another.
    As used in this article, “candidate for accreditation or otherwise in the application process” means that within three (3) months of first enrolling students, or by July 1, 2006, for any private post secondary institution licensed to operate or do business under this article prior to July 1, 2006, the private degree granting post secondary education institution has applied for accreditation by an accrediting association recognized by the United States department of education and is in the process of gathering information and performing activities requested by that association to complete that process.

As some accreditors, such as the DETC, do not grant candidacy status or, what is perhaps more disconcerting, announce which institutions have failed in their application process, I see no reason why an entity such as Kennedy-Western University could not simply fill out the minimal paperwork necessary to apply for accreditation (and it is indeed minimal) in order to qualify for registration, and then simply enjoy the benefits of such a registration for 5 years. In fact, as the legislation makes allowances for extensions, I can’t see why such an entity could, at the end of the five years, apply to a different accreditor and ask for either a new registration or extension on that basis.

In fact, I predict that this is exactly what Kennedy-Western will do. Also, after the media attention has died down, watch for some kind of grand fathering mechanism to be put in place, perhaps by being inserted surreptitiously in a totally unrelated bill. They don’t pay these high-priced lobbyists the big bucks and make substantial political contributions for nothing.
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Postby Hungry Ghost » Fri Mar 17, 2006 8:52 pm

Gus Sainz wrote:I see no reason why an entity such as Kennedy-Western University could not simply fill out the minimal paperwork... then simply enjoy the benefits of such a registration for 5 years. In fact, as the legislation makes allowances for extensions...

Also, after the media attention has died down, watch for some kind of grand fathering mechanism to be put in place
***********
There was an old Degreeinfo thread six months or a year ago that linked to a WY news story in which K-W was applauding either this legislation or some earlier version of it. I seem to recall them boasting about how they had advised the WY legislature on it.

The effects of this legislation might end up surprising me. But right now I expect to see the better-connected WY unaccredited schools continuing to operate, while touting the state's new 'get tough' legislation in their marketing as evidence of their bona fides.
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Postby Rich Douglas » Sat Mar 18, 2006 8:21 am

I seem to recall a few years back when Louisiana adopted a similar stance, requiring its unaccredited schools to be on an accreditation track. At that time, the usual suspects filled out DETC accreditation applications and continued to operate for a few years more until they either finally went out of business or "moved" to Mississippi.

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Postby tcnixon » Tue Mar 21, 2006 4:48 am

InsideHigherEd.com has an article about it here:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/20/wyoming





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Re: Wyoming passes law requiring accreditation candidacy

Postby Jake_A » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:08 pm

g-gollin wrote:Wyoming has passed "AN ACT relating to private school licensing... The vote was strongly in favor ot the bill: 51 for, 7 against in the House and 27 for, 3 against in the Senate. It was signed by the governor a few days ago.

As I understand it, the bill requires a post-secondary institution granting degrees to Wyoming citiizens to be accredited, or to be a candidate for accreditation. I am unclear about the status of religious exemptions for schools.

A digest and legislative history of the bill is available here: http://legisweb.state.wy.us/2006/Digest/SF0069.htm.


It is about time. Really!

Well how about that!


Fabulous! Simply fabulous! Finally, the good people of Wyoming can absolve themselves from the reputation of having been a "haven for diploma mills and unwonderful and unaccredited schools" all of these years.

originally posted by tcnixon:
InsideHigherEd.com has an article about it here:

http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2006/03/20/wyoming


Good article. Thanks for sharing it.

Now we have some work to do: based on all of the above information, one intriguing question is this: How long will it take for long-unaccredited and die-hard entities like KW"U", Preston U, etc. to (i) file for USDoE-recognized accreditation candidacy or (ii) flee from Wyoming for greener, laxier pastures elsewhere?

The dedline is July 1, 2006 and the clock is ticking, according to this section 21-2-402 (b) of the new Act:

"As used in this article, "candidate for accreditation or otherwise
in the application process" means that within three (3)
months of first enrolling students, or by July 1, 2006, for
any private degree granting post secondary education
institution licensed to operate or do business under this
article prior to July 1, 2006, the private degree granting
post secondary education institution has applied for
accreditation by an accrediting association recognized by
the United States department of education and is being
considered for candidacy status or for accreditation by
that association and is in the process of gathering
information and performing activities requested by that
association to complete the application process."

It would be interesting to observe, if between now and July 1, 2006, any Wyoming-based unaccredited entity files papers with (i) any state department of education for licenese to operate, or (ii) files papers with any USDoE-recognized regional or national or specialized accreditation agency for candidacy.

Or not.

Is doing nothing an option?

Thanks.
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Postby aic712 » Wed Mar 22, 2006 6:27 pm

KWU will probably just move to alabama then (or pay the fees to be granted state approval there)

I had to turn someone away with a degree from there last week, the worst part is he kept lying and telling me that GMU accepted his KWU degree....I feel for the guy, but at the same time I dont.
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