SUNY Orange has gotten back a controversial accreditation the absence of which resulted in the threat of a lawsuit from students last year, and left other students unsure what accreditations they would graduate with this year.
The certification, given by Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (JRCERT), was for the school’s Radiologic Technology program, which trains students on X-ray equipment.
It’s not an essential accreditation for the program, and is not required to be a radiologic technician in most states, the college said.
The one state that does require it is Maryland, according to SUNY Orange President Dr. Kristine Young, which is where one student applied for a job last year.
That is how SUNY Orange found out it did not have the JRCERT accreditation.
For some undisclosed reason, former president Dr. Bill Richards requested the JRCERT accreditation be removed, but did not tell the 2015 graduating class about it.
Neither the students, nor the college’s Board of Trustees, which should have approved such a decision, were told, and according to the withdrawal letter, only a handful of people cc’d on the withdrawal letter were in the know.
At the time of the withdrawal, the college was in the process of doing a mid-way review for their accreditation. JRCERT found some “deficiencies” in the program and reduced the amount of time for which the program was accredited from eight years to six. Instead of making the changes JRCERT requested, Richards requested the certification end on May 21, the same day as the 2015 spring graduation.
The letter requesting the withdrawal said the students graduating after May 21 would be notified “both verbally and in writing” about the change, and the letter JRCERT sent confirming the loss of accreditation reminded the college administration of this.
Young, who was also not told about the dropped accreditation when she assumed office last June, is now dealing with the fallout. A notice of claim—a notice to a government body that someone may have suffered an injury, issued prior to filing a lawsuit—was issued last year by the 20 students in the class of 2015.
She stresses that the accreditation was a “value-added” part of the program and that all the students who took that the exam to be radiologists last year passed.
“Which means that, first of all, this was a darn fine program, even without the accreditation,” she told county legislators at a committee meeting last year.
The students’ lawyer, Michael Sussman, said that while his clients were still certified radiographers, the dropped accreditation affected their job prospects.
“They’re not able to get jobs at first-rate institutions, that’s the fact of the matter,” Sussman said in a phone interview.
Ever since the current administration found out about the dropped accreditation, they have been working with JRCERT to get it back.
There was some ambiguity as to whether they could do it in time for the 2016 class to graduate. JRCERT CEO Leslie Winter said late last year that they would be starting the certification process from scratch.
“There’s no real difference between a program that … is applying for the first time for accreditation or someone that’s continuing their accreditation,” she said in a phone interview.
The college did get it back, and in a July 7 press release, the college said that all students graduating from the program this year will graduate from a JRCERT accredited program.
To contact this reporter, email [email protected]