Hampton University files lawsuit over pharmacy school’s withdrawal of accreditation


HAMPTON, Va. (WAVY) — Hampton University has filed a federal civil lawsuit against the agency that determines accreditation for its pharmacy school.

In a complaint filed July 23, Hampton University alleges the Accreditation Council for Pharmacy Education’s decision to take away the school’s accreditation earlier this year is a “bizarrely contradictory and Kafkaesque bureaucratic process rife with bias and revenge.”

The university has asked the court to find the withdrawal of accreditation null and void, as well as award compensatory and punitive damages.

The ACPE withdrew the school’s pharmacy program accreditation earlier this year for noncompliance with student progression through the PharmD program, as well as partial compliance with assessment standards.

Since February, Hampton University School of Pharmacy has had accreditation with probation as it appealed the ACPE’s decision. On June 11, the ACPE Appellate Commission upheld the withdrawal of accreditation.

The university claims it has tried numerous times to resolve the accreditation issues, but to no avail. The school also says the ACPE has not been receptive to changing the accreditation status once improvements were made.

Hampton University, one of the country’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, says it produces more African American pharmacists in the state than any other pharmacy program. It also says it’s one of the top three producers of African American pharmacists in the United States.

The school says more than 96 percent of its graduates have gone on to work in medically-underserved communities.

In the complaint, Hampton University says the ACPE’s decision to take away the pharmacy program’s accreditation — and “ruin its reputation” — comes during a public health crisis and time when “the nation’s simultaneous reckoning with a legacy of structural racism and the myriad obstacles to obtaining health and wealth for people of color.”

The school cited the dire circumstances surrounding the current coronavirus pandemic, which more significantly impacts communities of color.

“If ACPE’s arbitrary action is not reversed, then the accrediting agency will have unilaterally terminated an extremely important community-oriented pharmacy program at one of the nation’s premier Historically Black Colleges and Universities during a pandemic that has disproportionately
impacted those communities which HUSOP serves,” the complaint reads.

According to the complaint, pharmacy graduates cannot practice unless they graduate from an ACPE-accredited school.

Hampton University’s pharmacy program has had accreditation with probation for several years. Accreditation records show Hampton University School of Pharmacy was last fully accredited in the 2015-2016 school year.

It was then changed to “accredited with probation” in the 2016-2017 school year, through the 2019-2020 school year, when accreditation was withdrawn.

In February, the school of pharmacy said it had been working to address compliance issues since 2017.

According to a letter sent in early February to the campus community, students who are currently enrolled will be able to graduate and take the licensure examination with no adverse effect. ACPE accreditation applies to students in the classes of 2020, 2021, 2022, and 2023.

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