BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA, APPELLANT,
THE JOINT REVIEW COMMITTEE ON EDUCATION IN RADIOLOGIC TECHNOLOGY, APPELLEE
Argued February 26, 2015
Appeal from the Superior Court of the District of Columbia. (CAB-3793-12). (Hon. Michael L. Rankin, Trial Judge).
Daniel D. Mauler, with whom Yoora Pak and Smruti Radkar were on the brief, for appellant.
Michael A. Montgomery, of the bar of the State of Virginia, pro hac vice, by special leave of court, with whom Edward J. Longosz, II, and Sarah Shyr were on the brief, for appellee.
Before GLICKMAN and FISHER, Associate Judges, and STEADMAN, Senior Judge.
Steadman, Senior Judge.
After offering courses in radiology for almost forty years, the University of the District of Columbia (" UDC" ) lost its accreditation in that field by action of the Joint Review Committee on Education in Radiologic Technology (" JRCERT" ). The issue in this appeal by UDC is whether, as the trial court held, exclusive jurisdiction over its dispute with JRCERT is vested in the federal courts. We hold that it is and therefore affirm the trial court's dismissal of UDC's third-party complaint against JRCERT for lack of jurisdiction.
JRCERT is the only agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education and the Council for Higher Education Excellence to accredit programs in radiography, radiation therapy, magnetic resonance, and medical dosimetry. Only students who graduate from a program while it is certified by JRCERT are considered graduates of a JRCERT accredited program. Students who fail to graduate from a JRCERT accredited program cannot sit for the national board certification examination.
JRCERT continuously accredited UDC's Medical Radiography Program (" the Program" ) from 1971 to April 23, 2010. On that date, JRCERT's Board of Directors voted to involuntarily withdraw the Program's accreditation, effective April 23, 2010. UDC did not seek re-accreditation.
Two years later, on May 2, 2012, Ahmednur Fella, a student at UDC who had graduated from the Program on May 8, 2010, filed a lawsuit against UDC alleging breach of contract, fraud, and negligent misrepresentation arising from the revocation of accreditation. UDC then filed a third-party complaint against JRCERT under Rule 14 of the Superior Court Rules of Civil Procedure, alleging a wide variety of state law claims. The trial court granted JRCERT's motion to dismiss the third-party complaint on the ground that 20 U.S.C. § 1099b (f) (2012), a provision of the Higher Education Act of 1965 (" HEA" ), as amended, conferred exclusive jurisdiction over the dispute in the federal courts. We turn to that issue.
The disputed provision relating to the issue of exclusive jurisdiction came into
being as part of the 1992 amendments to the Higher Education Act of 1965 and reads as follows (20 U.S.C. § 1099b (f)):
Notwithstanding any other provision of law, any civil action brought by an institution of higher education seeking accreditation from, or accredited by, an accrediting agency or association recognized by the Secretary for the purpose of this subchapter and part C of subchapter I of chapter 34 of Title 42 and involving the denial, withdrawal, or termination of accreditation of the ...