AUGUSTA, GA (WFXG) - UPDATE: On Monday afternoon, Judge Thomas W. Thrash entered a preliminary injunction, which reinstated Paine College as a member of the SACSCOC and restored the school's accreditation.
ORIGINAL STORY: Paine College has filed a lawsuit seeking an emergency injunction to restore the college's accreditation.
In a press release sent out Monday afternoon, Paine College alleges that the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges has violated the school's right to due process. The lawsuit alleges that a high-ranking SACSCOC employee had conversations about Paine's appeal with members of the appeals committee without Paine's representatives present and failed to provide Paine with important documents. The lawsuit goes on to claim that the SACSCOC did not allow Paine to submit its audited 2016 financial statements as evidence for its appeal. The college claims those financial statements show that Paine is in better financial condition than previously thought.
Paine Board of Trustees Chair-elect Michael Thurmond says, "I believe the actions of a SACSCOC staff member who engaged in improper communications with the hearing officer and chair of the appeals committee prior to the appeals hearing created the appearance of impropriety and possibly tainted the adjudicative process."
Paine College President Dr. Samuel Sullivan stated, "The hearing officer's decision to prohibit the admission of Paine's unqualified 2016 audited financial statements prevented the appeals committee from seeing verified evidence that Paine had a balanced budget, reduced liabilities, increased unrestricted net assets and was in full compliance with the Principles of Accreditation."