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Fiasco: Attack on San Francisco City College Outrages CA Officials

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Throughout the two-year debate over a plan by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to shut down San Francisco’s nine-campus City College, the school’s supporters held their tongues on one key belief. Namely, that the commission had long ago made up its mind to shut down the college and no amount of restructuring could change the ACCJC’s mind. A recently filed court document, however, has confirmed this widespread suspicion.

The San Francisco Superior Court filing, first revealed in a Los Angeles Times story, disclosed that not one of the ACCJC’s own 15-member evaluation team ever suggested that CCSF’s accreditation be revoked; instead, the commission admitted, its panel merely recommended a form of academic probation that would allow the school to fix some administrative and accounting bugs in its system. Despite that, the ACCJC’s executive committee voted in 2012 to ignore the evaluators’ recommendations and threatened the school with the loss of its accreditation. A Superior Court preliminary injunction has so far prevented ACCJC from carrying out this academic death sentence.

Since its 2012 decision, the ACCJC has been exposed as a shadowy commissariat whose capricious and largely punitive decisions have for years dogged California’s 112 community colleges. The sanctions it imposed upon CCSF caused San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera to file a lawsuit challenging the commission’s authority and accusing its members of personal conflicts of interest and an ingrained political prejudice against CCSF, which serves nearly 80,000 San Franciscans, many of them immigrant and low-income students.

The lawsuit is scheduled for a bench trial in late October; meanwhile, the commission has been harshly criticized by the U.S. Department of Education and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi, and a June 26 report by the State Auditor blasted the ACCJC  for what was described as its inconsistent decisions and lack of transparency.

The revelation that the ACCJC ignored the unanimous recommendation of its own evaluation team has provoked deep anger. CCSF trustee Rafael Mandelman told the Los Angeles Times the commission’s dismissal of its evaluation team’s recommendation was “completely outrageous and unforgivable.”

So far the normally pliant CCSF administration continues to play ball with the commission. According to a July 31 San Francisco Chronicle report, cowed administrators have submitted to a “restoration” scheme that was improvised by the ACCJC in June in response to federal pressure to keep the school open. Under this unprecedented plan the college would have three months – including time stretching over the summer – to produce documentation of improvements that would normally require a year’s effort to assemble. In the meantime, a motion for summary judgment in the city’s case against ACCJC will be heard in San Francisco Superior Court September 10.


Also Read:

No Break in Fight to Save S.F.’s City College

Fight to Save City College of San Francisco Will Go to Trial

“Unfathomable”: Why Is One Commission Trying to Close California’s Largest Public College?

 

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