October 15, 2002
Dr. Paul D. Walker, PhD.
The Council on Chiropractic Education
8049 North 85th Way
Scottsdale, AZ 85458-4321
Dear Dr. Walker,
Thank you for setting aside your policy of not responding to lawyers. My
client and I find your six-page comment on my letters to Drs. Phillips and
Brimhall and attorney Pope quite helpful. I suggest that we work toward
better communications between our respective groups. My client and I believe
that the best approach for improving communications would be for
representatives of the two groups to meet in person. We are prepared to
meet at any reasonable time and place.
Before setting out further details of our concerns, I have a preliminary
comment. I intended my letters to CCE leaders to be constructive rather
than hostile. My client and I remain interested in addressing the problem
of the appearance of a lack of fairness in the activities of CCE. That is
why we phrased the heart of our concerns more as a series of tough,
important questions than direct accusations. We look forward to your
response to this letter, which we hope will address our previous as well as
our current questions.
DECE and its advisors have reviewed your letter, and those of Drs. Phillips
and Brimhall and attorney board member Pope, with great care. We have also
obtained and reviewed, going to great lengths and expense, official copies
of available relevant documents from the applicable authorities, concerning
many aspects of the CCE's organization and activities.
Our study is ongoing, and we are basing all questions and concerns on our,
we hope, objective reading of original documents. In addition to our
previously asked questions, most of which remain unanswered, the documents
we have obtained raise serious questions about CCE's corporate status. What
we are learning confirms my initial impressions of a lack of clarity in
CCE's structure and procedures that seems to create potential dangerous
exposure for the organization.
We have also reviewed the procedures followed by CCE in its recent
reorganization of its corporate structure. It appears from your governing
body records, including apparently official minutes, that a major
reorganization took place in spite of the fact that the motion authorizing
it failed to receive the required two-thirds majority vote. The official
records show that despite this failure, CCE's executive leadership proceeded
One of the more significant consequences of the reorganization, questions
about procedural appropriateness in making these changes notwithstanding, is
the fundamental shift in the philosophical direction and decision-making
basis of the CCE. This shift, away from the historic parameters and values
of chiropractic, accompanied by a major shift in the mission of the CCE,
from a body accrediting institutions that educate doctors of chiropractic to
one accrediting programs that graduate primary care physicians, appears to
fall outside the authority of an accreditation agency.
Among other problems, this shift raises serious questions about compliance
with state and federal law, including the fact that a number of states have
prohibited chiropractors from using the term "primary care physician." On
its surface this redefinition seems, not only potentially illegal, at least
in some jurisdictions, but also excessively narrow, controlling and
anti-competitive, and appears to counterproductively penalize the
educational institutions that collectively train the majority of
chiropractic doctors for professing the traditional chiropractic
orientation. This subject needs serious discussion.
The legal issues inherent in CCE's transformation are of enough significance
that if they cannot be openly discussed among interested parties and
resolved they could easily become the focus of regulators, such as state
attorneys general, the US Department of Education, and state and federal
anti-trust law enforcement agencies. Significant legal issues are raised
when an exclusive standards setting body like CCE affects the educational
marketplace by professing a particular philosophical position to the
exclusion of competing philosophies.
Of less long term importance but far more immediate concern, however, both
to you and to us, is CCE's corporate status. We believe that the argument
can and likely will be made that CCE is operating outside the corporate
validity it needs to effectively and authoritatively function as an
educational standards setting body. We also believe that the additional
argument could and likely will be made to the Department of Education, by
others if not us, that the organization that the federal department
recognized to accredit chiropractic professional programs, that is, the CCE
as originally recognized, is not the body that is functioning under the name
Council on Chiropractic Education today.
Given the uncertain corporate status of the CCE, the awkwardly achieved and
fundamental shift in CCE's institutional power and profound philosophical
bias expressed by these realities, we urge CCE to immediately take the
necessary steps to remove CCE/COA, its officers, staff and its board members
from legal jeopardy. Immediate, proactive steps by CCE are the best hope to
avert serious problems. Specifically, the continued functioning of CCE,
including the issuance of accreditation and re-accreditation decisions,
indeed even CCE/COA daily operations, could very well be found to be legally
improper by the courts. Given this situation, the prudent course would be
for CCE to put all its actions on hold until these matters are resolved.
These are issues that demand critical attention. It is for the purpose of
discussing them that I suggest an urgent meeting of representatives of the
CCE/COA and DECE. No body of affected individuals that is outside the
feared possibility of CCE retaliation exists, other than DECE. We believe
that it is in the best interests of all elements of the chiropractic
profession, including the CCE itself, for the CCE/COA to immediately cease
and desist from all accreditation activities and return to its
organizational status of January 2001.
Until CCE/COA corporate status, corporate governance, and philosophical bias
issues are resolved to the satisfaction of affected individuals,
organizations and relevant regulators, including state and federal
anti-trust officials, the US DOE, and federal and state legislators, doubts
about CCE legitimacy will remain and conflict will expand. For the welfare
of the community these matters need resolution.
Regulatory authorities, we are advised, will look favorably on swift
voluntary corrective steps and a moratorium on academic actions. Such
corrective actions may also mitigate the precarious position in which
members of CCE and COA may find themselves with regard to CCE's various
contracts and responsibilities, including the organization's directors and
officers/acts and omissions insurance, which will likely be challenged and
possibly found invalid--an outcome we do not wish on anyone. Taking
forthright and prudent steps now will alleviate current problems. The future
of chiropractic education itself might well hang in the balance.
It is very important for CCE and DECE to move forward with care. It is in
the spirit of resolving a very serious set of problems that I suggest a
meeting. The potential for lasting harm to the entire system of
chiropractic education worsens as each day passes.
I look forward to hearing from you and meeting with you and your
representatives soon. Once again, I thank you for your willingness to
suspend your policy of not responding to lawyers. This action has made it
possible to continue this dialogue and lay the groundwork for further steps
in resolving these matters.
James S. Turner
Attorney for DECE