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Salem seeks reversal of nursing board decision

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Salem International University is trying to save its associate degree program in nursing.

The school has asked the West Virginia Board of Examiners for Registered Professional Nurses to reconsider its decision to withdraw approval for Salem's associate degree program, Salem President John Luotto said June 20. The board's decision effectively terminates the program as of Aug. 31.

"The university and I have requested that the RN board, that they call a special meeting or take appropriate action to reconsider their position," Luotto said in a phone interview with The State Journal. "We believe they have a fundamental misunderstanding of what we have done."

The state board took its action late last week when it notified Salem by letter that it was withdrawing its approval for the associate degree program. Luotto said the LPN program at Salem is not affected by the board's decision.

The board listed several reasons for its decision. Among them:

  • Salem failed to correct deficiencies listed in a letter dated Feb. 25.
  • Salem failed to stop admitting students to all nursing programs toward a nursing degree after Feb. 25.
  • Salem engaged in activities that demonstrated its program did not meet legal requirements or standards. The director of the nursing program did not have authority to make necessary decisions, and decisions made by the director had not been supported by the university's administration.
  • Salem failed to maintain a passing rate of at least 80 percent on the licensure examine by first-time candidates.

According to minutes of the board's Feb. 22 meeting, several problems at Salem were found during a visit to Salem on Feb. 13. Those problems included identification of inadequate numbers of faculty; failure to assure the director uses 80 percent of the time administering the program; discrepancies between descriptions of program processed by the director, faculty and students and that of the administration particularly as it relates to decisions about the nursing program; failure to provide adequate advising for students; and discrepancies regarding inclusion of the director of the program in hiring decisions of faculty for the nursing program.

On June 20, Luotto said he was surprised by the board's decision.

Salem International had answered all the board' concerns that were listed in the February letter, he said. Luotto said he attended the board meeting on June 12, and the board voted unanimously to continue its provisional approval of Salem's program.

Luotto said he left the meeting after the vote. After that, he said, the board went into executive session and reversed its decision.

"It was a surprise to me. I left there feeling rather good," Luotto said.

The board does not have a regular meeting scheduled until October.