By Devin Rose
Citing additional coursework requirements that would extend students' time in the program and add significant costs to the school, Concordia University has decided not to continue the accreditation of its school counseling program, which it maintained for over 15 years.
A student in the program said in an email to Wednesday Journal that counseling students were scheduled to meet with a lawyer to initiate a class-action lawsuit against the university. But the university is not aware of any pending legal action against it, a spokesman said last week.
Concordia's school counseling program had been accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling & Related Educational Programs since 1996. An attachment to a Nov. 30 letter announcing the decision from Marilyn Reineck, provost and senior vice president for academics, said the university maintained its CACREP accreditation even as more requirements were created and diverged from the state's requirements for licensure. In some situations, the letter said, requirements conflicted with other curriculum innovations that would best serve the students.
The accreditation lapsed on Oct. 31, the letter said. School counseling students graduating from the program after this month will not graduate from a CACREP-accredited program unless CACREP grants the school's appeal asking that the status be grandfathered for certain current students.
Tyler Kimbel, director of research and information services for CACREP, said counseling students seeking national certification need to take extra classes if they don't graduate from a CACREP-accredited program. Kimbel said CACREP accreditation is also important if counselors move between states or want to work for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.
The letter from the school said that new accreditation requirements would have made it difficult for Concordia to continue offering the multi-site cohort program model that permits students to attend classes near their homes or places of work. The school argues that only a limited number of other institutions in Illinois offer a CACREP-accredited graduate degree in school counseling, so the decision would not place its students at a disadvantage. Chicago Public Schools does not require the recognition.
The letter says current students in the program will have the opportunity to transfer at no cost to the Clinical Mental Health Counseling program.