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Camtech Sch. of Nursing & Tech. Scis. v. Delaware Board of Nursing

Supreme Court of Delaware

August 22, 2014

DELAWARE BOARD OF NURSING, Appellee Below-Appellee

Submitted May 23, 2014

Case Closed September 9, 2014.

Editorial Note:

This decision has been designated as "Table of Decisions Without Published Opinions." in the Atlantic Reporter.

Court Below: Superior Court of the State of Delaware, in and for New Castle County. C.A. No. N13A-05-004.

Before STRINE, Chief Justice, HOLLAND, and RIDGELY, Justices.


Henry duPont Ridgely, Justice

On this 22nd day of August 2014, it appears to the Court that:

(1) Appellant-Below/Appellant Camtech School of Nursing and Technological Sciences (" Camtech" ) appeals from a Superior Court Opinion and Order affirming the decision of the Delaware Board of Nursing (the " Nursing Board" or " Board" ) withdrawing state approval of Camtech's nursing education program. Camtech raises three claims on appeal. First, Camtech contends that the Board's revocation of its state approval violated procedural due process and Delaware law. Second, Camtech argues that the Board erred as a matter of law in its interpretation of " good cause" under Delaware law. Finally, Camtech argues that the Board erred in its factual findings. We find no merit to Camtech's claims. Accordingly, we affirm.

(2) Camtech applied to the Nursing Board for approval of its nursing education program in August 2005. It obtained Phase I approval in September 2006, which allowed students to enroll at Camtech as it proceeded through Phase II. Camtech never completed Phase II of its program requirements and has never obtained Full Approval. On February 17, 2009, the Board informed Camtech that it would be placed on probation due, in part, to the inadequate pass rate of its graduates who took the National Counsel Licensure Exam (" NCLEX" ).

(3) In September 2012, while Camtech was still on probation, the Board notified Camtech that the Board intended to withdraw Camtech's state approval pursuant to 24 Del. C. § 1919(b). Camtech timely requested a hearing, which was held on November 14, 2012. At this hearing, Camtech presented testimony from its Director of Practical Nursing and its President. Camtech also submitted documentary evidence of its Proposed Corrective Plan of Action and related Appendix. At the conclusion of the initial hearing, the Board continued the matter until January 9, 2013, so that it could deliberate on the new evidence Camtech had submitted. At the January 9th hearing, the Board voted to withdraw approval of Camtech's Practical Nursing Program. Thereafter, Camtech submitted a Request for Reconsideration based, in part, on its most recent NCLEX pass rates.

(4) On April 10, 2013, the Nursing Board issued an opinion and order explaining its decision to withdraw state approval. The Board also denied Camtech's Request for Reconsideration in a separate order, finding that Camtech's NCLEX first-time pass rates were still inadequate. Camtech appealed to the Superior Court, which affirmed the decision of the Board.[1] This appeal followed.

(5) This Court's review of an administrative agency's decision is the same as the Superior Court's.[2] That is, we review the decision of the Nursing Board " to determine whether [it] acted within its statutory authority, whether it properly interpreted and applied the applicable law, whether it conducted a fair hearing and whether its decision is based on sufficient substantial evidence and is not arbitrary." [3] Substantial evidence is defined as evidence that " a reasonable mind might accept as adequate to support a conclusion." [4] Questions of law are reviewed de novo.[5] But we also give judicial deference to " an administrative agency's construction of its own rules in recognition of its expertise in a given field." [6] Thus, an agency's interpretation of its own rules or regulation will only be reversed when it is " clearly wrong." [7]

(6) " In the exercise of quasi-judicial or adjudicatory administrative power, administrative hearings, like judicial proceedings, are governed by fundamental requirements of fairness which are the essence of due process, including fair notice of the scope of the proceedings and adherence of the agency to the stated scope of the proceedings." [8] As it relates to administrative proceedings, due process requires that the parties are given an " opportunity to be heard, by presenting testimony or otherwise, and the right of controverting, by proof, every material fact which bears on the question of right in the matter involved in an orderly proceeding appropriate to the nature of the hearing and adapted to meet its ends." [9] ...

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