State authorization is the legal directive that requires higher education institutions to be in compliance with the laws and regulations of each state where it conducts business. Each state has the authority to regulate educational activities that are delivered within and across its borders, including distance/online education. Compliance with individual state requirements is now part of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, Amended 2010. The act states that institutions offering distance education courses or programs must provide current and prospective students with the contact information for filing complaints with the college, its accrediting agency, and with the state agencies that handle complaints in the students’ state of residence. There can be significant consequences to institutions that are not in compliance with state authorization regulations, so Shepherds Theological Seminary takes this requirement very seriously.
The National Council for State Authorization Reciprocity Agreements (NC-SARA) provides a regional approach to oversight of distance education and streamlines the process for institutions to become compliant in other states for distance education. Membership in NC-SARA is voluntary. NC-SARA ensures students are afforded various consumer protection benefits as well as access to quality programs by establishing a set of guidelines to which member institutions must adhere. You can read more about NC-SARA here.
To verify that Shepherds Theological Seminary is authorized to offer Online Courses in your state, please visit the NC-SARA website.
STUDENT COMPLAINT PROCESS
Students have an opportunity to present their complaints and to appeal faculty or administrative decisions through a dispute resolution or grievance procedure. STS will attempt to resolve promptly all grievances that are appropriate for handling under this policy.
All complaints will be in writing delivered to the Title IX coordinator (Karen Fountaine, Title IX Coordinator: 6051 Tryon R., Cary, NC; firstname.lastname@example.org; 919-573-1578) to act as a facilitator for the complaint process.
1. An appropriate grievance is defined as a student’s expressed feeling of dissatisfaction concerning any interpretation or application of a work/study-related policy by management, faculty or other employees.
2. Students must notify STS in a timely fashion of any grievance considered appropriate for handling under this policy. The grievance procedure is the exclusive remedy for students with appropriate grievances. As used in this policy, the terms “timely fashion,” “reasonable time” and “promptly” will mean seven days.
3. Students will not be penalized for proper use of the grievance procedure. However, it is not considered proper if a student abuses the procedure by raising grievances in bad faith or solely for the purposes of delay or harassment, or by repeatedly raising grievances that a reasonable person would judge to have no merit.
4. Students who feel they have an appropriate grievance should proceed as follows:
A. Promptly bring the grievance to the attention of a faculty member. If the grievance involves a faculty member, then it is permissible to proceed directly to Step B. The faculty member is to investigate the grievance, attempt to resolve it and give a decision to the student within a reasonable time. The faculty member should prepare a written and dated summary of the grievance and proposed resolution for file purposes.
B. The student may appeal the decision to the Provost, if dissatisfied with the faculty decision, or initiate the procedure with the Provost if the grievance involves a faculty member. If the grievance involves the Provost, then it is permissible to proceed directly to Step C. An appeal or initial complaint must be made in a timely fashion in writing. The faculty member’s version of the grievance and decision will then be submitted, also in writing. The Provost will, in a timely fashion, confer with the student, the faculty member and any other members of management considered appropriate; investigate the issues, and communicate a decision in writing to all the parties involved.
C. The student may appeal an unsatisfactory Provost decision to the chairman of the Board of Directors, or initiate the procedure with the chairman if the grievance involves the Provost. The timeliness requirement and procedures to be followed are similar to those in Step 2. The chairman will take the necessary steps to review and investigate the grievance and will then issue a written, final, and binding decision.
D. Final decision on grievances will not be precedent-setting or binding on future grievances unless they are officially stated as STS policy. When appropriate, the decision will be retroactive to the date of the student’s original grievance.
E. Information concerning a student’s grievance is to be held in strict confidence. The office of the Provost will collect, file and report all student complaints. Faculty members, department heads and other members of management who investigate a grievance are to discuss it only with those individuals who have a need to know about it or who are needed to supply necessary background information.
Student who feel that the administration or faculty are not dealing properly with their complaint may contact the appropriate authorities listed below.
STUDENT COMPLAINT PROCESS FOR ONLINE COURSES
Out-of-state students who wish to file a complaint with their home state should refer to the State Authorization Liaisons Per State responsible for handling complaints.
State Authorization Liaisons Per State
NC POST-SECONDARY EDUCATION COMPLAINT PROCEDURES
If a complaint cannot be resolved through the institution’s complaint process, students may file a complaint with the North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints unit. Please review the NC Post-Secondary Education Student Complaint Policy (PDF), print and complete the NC Post-Secondary Education Complaint Form (PDF), and submit the complaint to:
North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
c/o Student Complaints
University of North Carolina System Office
910 Raleigh Road
Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2688
Phone: (919) 962-4550
Website: North Carolina Post-Secondary Education Complaints
ATS STUDENT COMPLAINT PROCESS
Shepherds Theological Seminary is accredited by The Association for Theological Schools (ATS) to award Masters degrees. If a complaint directly related to specific compliance with the standards of accreditation is not satisfactorily resolved, students are able to file a complaint with ATS.
Students should follow the procedures in the ATS Policies and Procedures manual (pg. 29).
The Association of Theological Schools
10 Summit Park Drive
Pittsburgh, PA 15275
Telephone: (412) 788-6505
SARA-NC COMPLAINT PROCESS AND INFORMATION
Students may also file a complaint through SARA-NC. SARA-NC is the portal for the North Carolina State Education Assistance Authority.
SARA North Carolina
North Caroline State Education Assistance Authority
P.O. Box 14103
Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
Telephone: (855) SARA-1-NC (727-2162)
Telephone: (919) 549-8614, ext. 4667
SARA-NC Complaint Process
SARA-NC Complaint Form (PDF)
We do not currently offer any programs that lead to licensure or certification.