CSWE dismisses student’s bias complaint against U

Sam Kean

The national accreditation agency for the University’s School of Social Work has recommended the dismissal of a complaint filed by a student alleging the school discriminated against her because of a disability.

In a three-page letter outlining its policy, the Council on Social Work Education made it clear it does not handle individual students’ grievances against their institutions. Instead, the CSWE only ensures individual schools specify and make known the rights of all students and faculty members.

CSWE standards and accreditation director Nancy Randolph and another official conducted interviews on campus in mid-April to investigate the student’s discrimination claim.

Randolph said in May that investigative visits are not common and that CSWE decided to investigate in this case because “some issues of accreditation had arisen.”

But after reviewing the case, Randolph recommended the complaint be dropped, and the School of Social Work’s accreditation remain unaffected. The CSWE will likely make these recommendations official at a meeting June 30.

The complaint arose from the student’s first months on campus during fall 1998. At the time, the school blocked the student’s chance to gain internships, which are required to earn a master’s degree in social work. However, it since determined she was fit to fulfill one, and school officials have said they have supported her placement.

During her enrollment, the student completed a different master’s degree program, which included clinical internships. However, she said the School of Social Work did not support her, and said this would not excuse earlier actions.

When she filed the complaint with CSWE, the student was aware of its limited governance over the School of Social Work. Regarding the recommended dismissal, she was “not surprised, but sad” because she thought she might have enough evidence to spur CSWE to action.

Before the letter arrived, school officials were confident the CSWE would dismiss the complaint.

They would not comment specifically on this case but released a statement saying, “The letter from the investigation committee speaks for itself,” later adding, “Individual students have a right to bring forth grievances within the University, and … the school always cooperates fully with these procedures and respects the rights of students to bring forth grievances.”

The student is still pursuing intra-University actions, including filing with the Graduate School grievance committee. She has made two offers to withdraw from the School of Social Work in exchange for a refund, but the University rejected both.

In the meantime, the student has called for a boycott of the School of Social Work among clinical partners. Both sides say they have received inquiries and support for their positions.


Sam Kean encourages comments at [email protected]