Where the Paine College accreditation status left off in 2016

Published: Jan. 18, 2017 at 3:37 PM EST
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Wednesday, Jan. 18, 2017

AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) -- Paine College has made a number of efforts to prove to the accreditation board that they deserve to remain open.

At the beginning of August, the college laid off fifteen people and lowered the salary of any employee who was earning more than minimum wage by ten percent.

Paine said the cuts allowed the school 2 million dollars in savings that would generate over the next 12 months.

On Sept. 12, the school sent a six member team to Atlanta for a meeting where the committee ruled on whether the school got to keep its accreditation.

Over the last year, Paine worked towards a more fiscal future.

Paine College was granted a 30-day extension to appeal the decision of the SACSCOC Board to remove Paine from membership.

Since then, Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan said the school was continuing to work hard to show SACS that Paine was on the right track to be financially stable. The school set up a capital fund to try and raise more money as well. Dr. Sullivan said the goal is to get about 15 million dollars over the next three to four years.

The college also looked to the city, local churches, and businesses for money and support to back up their efforts to prove they're working on the right track.

The school has been on probation since failing to meet financial requirements. Officials said it could take up to ten days following the meeting before they receive the ruling.

There were only 120 new freshmen that started at the school this Fall.

If Paine does not get to keep their accreditation the college has said they will try to find another accrediting body.

The college has said they will prepare a "teach out" plan to assist affected students so that they experience minimal disruption in the pursuit of their course of study. Students who have not completed their programs will be advised by faculty regarding suitable options including transfer to comparable programs at other institutions.

According to Paine College's website, if the school loses its accreditation, college credits will not lose their value because at the time the course work was completed it was at an accredited institution.

On Sept. 19, Paine College filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Georgia seeking declaratory, monetary, and injunctive relief against the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges (SACSCOC).

A federal judge granted an injunction between Paine and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission, according to Gus Small, an attorney with the law firm Cohen Pollock Merlin & Small.

The injunction means Paine College will remain accredited and on probation.

On Nov. 22, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission filed its response to Paine College's complaint.

The response requested the lawsuit filed by Paine be dismissed.

The accreditation board requested that the complaint be dismissed and the relief they asked for be denied.

The 72 page response also requested the fees and costs of the suit be cast on the college and the court find the board's decision to remove Paine College from accreditation was not "arbitrary".