I asked MARAD to expedite the KingsPointSentry FOIA request for the copy of the Monitoring Report that the Academy submitted to the Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE) on March 1, 2017. (Several sources have confirmed that a report of some type was actually submitted to MSCHE.) MARAD’s response?
Your argument that there is an urgent need to release the report due to what you describe as the “potential loss of accreditation” having “major ramifications” for USMMA students relates to the importance of the issues facing the Academy and its student body, but offers no evidence of any urgency necessary to support expedited processing of your request.
In other words, MARAD has raised its middle finger high in the air and directed it at all stakeholders.
I’ve asked for reconsideration, pointing out that the request is indeed urgent, since many midshipmen are considering accepting offers to transfer to other colleges where they can be reasonably certain that they will graduate from an accredited institution (and this is the month when they must make such decisions); and, that third class midshipmen must also make decisions in the near future (before second class year begins) as to whether to commit to the military and merchant marine service obligation that is the quid pro quo for the Academy education. It is critical for these midshipmen to be able to assess the likelihood that they will graduate from an accredited institution before making such a commitment.
I’m not holding my breath. I’m expecting MARAD to drag this out as long as possible; deny the request for expedited treatment; and then on the last day for responding, deny the request for the document. Because that’s how MARAD rolls. I’d be really happy to be proven wrong; but, MARAD has a really bad track record of proving KingsPointSentry wrong. For example, here, here, here and, of course, the $100,000 here.
I have said before, a midshipman potentially impacted by this could try to get a temporary court order to delay implementation of service obligations pending an MSCHE decision.
I think it would be difficult to get a federal judge to issue such an order as an injunction or temporary restraining order. Getting an order after the fact (i.e., if accreditation has been denied) that concludes that the Academy did not fulfill its end of the bargain and therefore the midshipmen should be relieved of their obligation might stand a better chance; but, in my opinion, even that would be a long shot.
If I was the accreditation body, I would deny it as the USMMA fails to follow the code of federal regulations and no longer offers a Dual License Program as required under 46 CFR 310.59