The American Council of Trustees and Alumni appealed its Dec. 31 complaint to the Department of Education on Friday, protesting “wrongful interference with institutional autonomy and governance powers” by the University’s accrediting body. In early December, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) decided to place the University on warning after the Board of Visitors’ failed professional attack on University President Teresa Sullivan last summer. The Department of Education determined that SACS did not violate federal laws in making its decision in early February. ACTA president Anne Neal fired back against the Department of Education’s determination on Friday. “SACS’ action falls outside its legitimate authority and amounts to the wielding of federal power in clear violation of the principles of federalism and the U.S. Constitution,” Neal said in a letter to Duncan. ACTA has been vocal since last summer about University governance issues. It was one of the only organizations to come out in support of Board Rector Helen Dragas during the summer and a recent statement on the organization’s website praises the Virginia General Assembly’s decision to reappoint Dragas. “Bravo, legislature, governor and trustees!,” Neal said in the statement. “The confirmation process in Virginia shows that trustees are accountable to the people.” ACTA’s decision to appeal comes after email correspondence between Dragas to Sullivan that set out a list of 65 goals to accomplish was leaked by the Washington Post, thrusting University governance tension back into the public spotlight.