Next Month is Critical for the AMEC : LUSENET : A.M.E. Today Discussion : One Thread

Why is next month important? On next Wednesday, April 2, 2003, The Southern Asscociation of Colleges & Schools (SACS) will be hearing the appeal from Morris Brown College (MBC) regarding her endangered accreditation status. One week after the hearing a ruling by the SACS hearing officers will be made to either uphold the December 2002 decision to deny accreditation, remand the case back to SACS or reverse the decision completely if compelling and unambiguous evidence is produced by MBC that the December decision was arbitrary and capricious thus violating accreditation review guidelines.

The best case scenario for MBC would be a finding of arbitrariness which would reverse the decision. The 2nd best scenario would be a remanding of the case back to SACS if evidence shows incompleteness in the review process. Remanding simply sends the case back to SACS for further deliberation. The worst-case scenario would be a finding and order by the hearing officer to uphold the December 2002 decision. It is important for all concerned members to understand that the 'burden of proof' rests with MBC to show that the initial decision was arbitrary. No NEW evidence can be or will be presented to substantiate the case. The hearing officer will restrict discussion only to the information used in the December 2002 findings. It is also important to understand that the normal rules of legal discovery (cross-examination, side-bars, etc.) are not permitted. This is not an appeal before a Federal appeallate court, simply an appeal before a hearing officer. Finally, it is important for all to understand that the negative decision about MBC's accreditation status is not just about fiscal improprieties or the lack of money. The fundraising efforts which have been mobilized since the December decision are helpful but will have little bearing on the outcome of the appeal. The appeal is restricted to the MBC's alleged non-compliance with about a dozen accrediting principles, the majority which are non-monetary in nature.

The exclusion of ex-post evidence makes the task of reversing the December 2002 decision extremely difficult, but not necessarily impossible. I suggested on this forum last December when this crisis exploded in the press that the AMEC would be wise to employ two types of attorneys skilled in higher education law - A lawyer to PREPARE the appeal. A different lawyer to PRESENT the appeal. To date I have no idea who will be presenting the appeal. Perhaps some of our Atlanta friends who are closer to the situation can enlighten us all on the personnel composition of the MBC appeal team. Regardless of who she or he is, this is the bottom line. The task of reversing the negative December SACS decision by the MBC team is extremely challenging. We would all be derelict in our AME stewardship if we did not have a Prayer Vigil across the Connection for the MBC appeal team and the hearing. While I hold no official legal credential (I was accepted into law school but opted out :-)) I believe it is important for our members to understand the challeges we face and be prepared to accept the outcome, favorable or unfavorable. QED

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2003


Information is key to our understanding to what is happening at Morris Brown College. Which means we need to call Morris Brown directly for information. I do not know what the appeal process involves but I do strongly suggest that individuals CALL MORRIS BROWN personally for clarification to the process. I have emailed Morris Brown in the past with my questions and got prompt replies. I do not know what the fund raising total was for Morris Brown across the denomination but Bishop Bryant of the fifth district informed me the fifth district raised $100,000.00 in two weeks for Morris Brown. We must continue to pray and we must continue to send Morris Brown our good wishes. Those that I have been in contact with at Morris Brown students, and falculty are so grateful to receive words of encouragement and prayer. They too are strong in their faith. And have set up daily prayer vigils. If anyone has concerns about the appeal process please contact the university and let every church pray and continue to send financial support. God bless the wonderful students at Morris Brown and let us stand on our faith with God!

-- Anonymous, March 28, 2003

Dear Brother Thank you for the most timely information on MBC. I will keep the school in prayer as with the rest of the connection. I would appreciate any additional information you can supply!

Best Regards from the Parson in Bermuda

-- Anonymous, March 29, 2003

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