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.
“Truthfully, I’m burned out,” Wendy Kaufmyn sighs over the phone. “And frankly we’re all just really tired. We’re having a meeting next week to try and revitalize ourselves.”
Kaufmyn, a tenured engineering instructor at the embattled City College of San Francisco (CCSF) and a cofounder of the Save CCSF Coalition, is speaking about the 21-month fight for survival of California’s largest community college. The strain and weariness are evident in her quivering voice.
“I’ve been here 31 years,” she tells Capital & Main. “I love City College and I’m just heartsick at what’s going on. I don’t know what’s going to happen.”
Kaufmyn is not alone. Since January, when San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow issued a preliminary injunction that temporarily barred the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) from pulling CCSF’s academic accreditation, a cloud of uncertainty has hung over the 79-year-old institution and the future of its 80,000 students.
The battle to keep City College of San Francisco open and accredited took a dramatic turn late Thursday afternoon. San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow temporarily barred the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) from revoking accreditation for the 79-year-old school that serves about 80,000 students at 11 San Francisco campuses. The ACCJC, the agency charged with evaluating California’s 112 community colleges, had sought to revoke CCSF’s accreditation by July 31; it was challenged by several lawsuits filed by San Francisco’s City Attorney and a pair of teachers unions.
Judge Karnow, while dismissing the unions’ suits, ruled in favor of the city attorney’s request for a temporary injunction against the accreditation revocation, declaring that CCSF’s shutdown would be too extreme a response to the ACCJC’s findings of administrative deficiencies at CCSF. “Those consequences would be catastrophic,” Karnow said of a shutdown.
Lawyers for the ACCJC unsuccessfully argued for a dismissal of all challenges to its institutional authority and expertise in determining accreditation standards.