by Jon Brooks and Lisa Pickoff-White

CCSF (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
CCSF (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

Citing slow progress in enacting recommendations to correct deficiencies, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has voted to terminate City College of San Francisco’s accreditation effective July 31, 2014. However, the college can ask for a review and has the right to appeal. Should CCSF fail in challenging the decision, it would no longer be able to receive public funds and probably be forced to shut down.

For now CCSF, which services more than 85,000 students, remains accredited. Almost 2,700 people work at the school, which consists of nine campuses and more than 100 instructional sites.

The school was put on notice a year ago that it would lose its accreditation unless it addressed 14 serious fiscal and management issues. From the Chronicle today…

[The commission] cited a broken system of governance and fiscal planning in which a skeletal crew of administrators and bickering employees failed to make necessary budget cuts, even as state funding dried up. Over the years, the college constructed sparkling buildings while neglecting such basic needs as computers and campus maintenance, the commission said.

But the commission today said the college had “addressed just two of 14 recommendations for change and corrected few of the deficiencies” cited in its dictate to the school to “show cause ” why accreditation should not be withdrawn.

Brice W. Harris, the chancellor of California Community Colleges, said during a teleconference that he’ll appoint a special trustee to run the school as it appeals the loss of accreditation. The trustee will have the power to close or consolidate CCSF’s nine campuses. “The trustee does have the ability to look at facilities and program reduction and collapsing centers one to another. And I think in order for this college to match up its expenses with its revenue streams, some of those things are absolutely going to have to happen,” Harris said. “I think probably the most important thing to acknowledge is that the college is still open, accredited and accepting students for the fall term. This process of review and appeal is a long one. And the students of San Francisco need to know that while we’re going through this process, they have a place they can go to college.”

Harris said the college would work to address the remaining problems concerning the commission and then appeal the revocation.

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee said that the college will need assistance from the state.

“I think state intervention is going to be absolutely necessary,” Lee said. “I don’t think that our City College got into this predicament overnight, and I don’t think given the time that we have – several months – of the continued effort here the same structure is going to be able to do it.”

CCSF Interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman said during the call, “I’m not surprised by too much of anything, but I am deeply concerned. … It (is) going to take more time to address all of the items that were cited as deficiencies.”

The Chronicle is quoting John Rizzo, president of the City College Board of Trustees, as saying the decision is “shocking and outrageous, given the massive changes we’ve made.”

“We’ve reorganized every level of the management structure, in every department. We’ve cut pay. We’ve funded the reserve for nine years. This is really bad for San Francisco.”

Alisa Messer, president of the American Federation of Teachers, Local 2121, which represents CCSF faculty, said “We will ensure that City College will survive and be available.”

KQED’s Joshua Johnson talked to CCSF engineering instructor Wendy Kaufmyn this morning, before the decision was released. “It’s to the disadvantage to the communities that we have traditionally served,” she said. “We have served immigrant communities, poor communities, communities of colors, workers. These are the people that really need us, and they are being shut out.”

San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee echoed those comments today in the conference call, saying it was “imperative that City College remain open for business.”

“Those students are not just ordinary students — they’re special students,” Lee said. “They’re returning veterans in the military. They’re also people in their mid-careers trying to catch up in our economy.”

Students at CCSF were surprised to hear the news.

“I’m really upset about it. I’m glad that I’m taking summer classes and getting my prerequisites out of the way,” said Felicia Colon. “I’m worried about it. How am I going to do it? I’m in nursing.”

Just last week, the Chronicle speculated that CCSF would not suffer the ultimate fate in the accreditation crisis, based on the college’s dropping of its crisis spokesman. The only other public community college in California to lose its accreditation was Compton College in 2006.

Press Release: Commission to Terminate City College of San Francisco’s Accreditation

  • Justin Park

    As a former CCSF student, I have to say that City College provides an indispensable service to the community. After serving in the military and working in restaurants and bars in SF, I decided to give school a second shot and enrolled at CCSF. Long story short, I recently graduated from Berkeley and I am now heading off to graduate school at Cambridge. None of that would be possible without the amazing teachers and classes at CCSF, which enabled me to transfer to Berkeley prepared for success. The Bay Area community needs a place where people, from all social strata, can get a chance to improve their lives and acquire new skills. This is about keeping the Bay Area a dynamic and progressive space where people can come and have the opportunity to improve their lives. I sincerely hope that the city and state helps CCSF make the changes necessary to keep its accreditation. We need CCSF to keep the Bay Area the amazing place that it is.

    • shootyshooter

      I’m sure the Bay Area will survive to see another day if this embarrassment of a school is shut down. Get over it.

      • ayee

        What experience have you had at CCSF that embarrasses you, shootyshooter? Just curious. I’m assuming you’ve attended CCSF or have had some direct relationship with it to feel that way. Justin Park clearly has attended CCSF and feels just the opposite, and it makes me wonder what reasons one might have for believing CCSF should not retain its accreditation. As a former CCSF student myself I’m deeply saddened and quite frankly surprised by the news (all my classes were taught by excellent instructors and for the most part filled with motivated, intelligent students), but I know others may not have had the same experience.
        .

        • Caroni Lombard

          Yeah.

      • Markus

        You don’t know what you are talking about. The school is a wonderful institution and serves those that need education the most. I had a wonderful experience at CCSF and am now in a graduate program. The stunning ineptitude of its board of trustees and the unwillingness to face facts does not reflect on the quality of the teaching. What’s “embarrassing” here is your callous indifference.

        • Troy McCormick

          Yes he does. This school is nasty and full of rude employees that don’t speak English and aggressive hoodrats that get away with immunity while when you make one simple complaint you get retaliated against. It’s not callous indifference the school will simply be merged into a new structure. Most of the teachers are losers.

          • Markus

            Not my experience at all. Maybe it’s your racist personality?

      • Caroni Lombard

        Boo.

    • Caroni Lombard

      Well said.

  • Talisman

    I would love to understand the politics and vested interests in play where this “commission” is concerned. Who benefits and to what extent? It sure as hell will not be the students who benefit from CCSF’s existence.

  • Caroni Lombard

    Unless CCSF has changed a great deal since I went there in the 1970’s, I can’t imagine justification to take away its accreditation. It was an excellent school for me. I had had such bad experiences in high school that I was really turned off. I got terrible grades and had to take the GED to complete some credits. By the time I was done, I felt dumb.

    But when I attended City College I learned that I was actually a very academic person and ended up at a Ph.D. program in clinical psychology and became a psychologist. I have always been grateful for my experience at CCSF for providing me a second chance to find myself and to qualify me to go onto a four-year college and grad school. In fact, I found the quality of instruction better at CCSF than at the next college I attended.

    • Troy McCormick

      It has changed dramatically, I only have had good experiences with the health care department and with some of the gay staff aside from them the instructors no longer speak English or have any communication skills whatsoever, they are rude mean and bitter people and the conditions are dilapidated.

      • Caroni Lombard

        I find it hard to believe that none of the instructors speak English, etc. I know one of them personally and he speaks excellent English and in fact teaches it. The fact that you are so all-or-nothing in your comments discredits your opinions in my view. I think if you had paid attention to what they had to teach you at CCSF, you would have learned to weigh things more equitably.

  • bikingviking

    I’m in CCSF summer school now. It’s an essential school and at least as good as if not better than the accredited East Bay community college Merritt. I have attended both. So I don’t buy it that educational quality is the issue. Closing would hurt the 90,000 or so current students, and many others. Yes, the school management or trustees may have made mistakes but it’s huge and no doubt hard to manage. Let’s save it rather than have to build a new one from scratch. The city and region can’t do without it, at least if we want workers here to learn actual job skills.

  • Ken Lomba

    Stop City College of San Francisco’s Forced Closure! Cut Costs by Contracting Out the Law Enforcement Services. Many Colleges across the USA contract out their law enforcement services to local law enforcement agencies.

    The benefits of the contract, which include:

    1. Consistent and guaranteed staffing levels.

    2. Reduced liability exposure to the college.

    3. Expansion and growth capabilities.

    4. Comprehensive law enforcement services.

    We believe CCSF should contract out the Law Enforcement Services base on cost saving factors and the above benefits.

    If you care about San Francisco, you should sign this petition. It will offer an idea, if implemented that would offer a cost saving measure for CCSF by contracting Law Enforcement Services instead of CCSF attempting to run its on Campus Police. Based on the Accreditation audit CCSF had poor management and fiscal waste. CCSF should not be in the law enforcement business. Contract the Law Enforcement Services to a large agency in SF and leave it to the professionals.

    http://www.causes.com/actions/1756056-stop-city-college-of-san-franciscos-forced-closure-cut-costs?recruiter_id=179194010&utm_campaign=own_timeline&utm_medium=wall&utm_source=fb

  • Troy McCormick

    CCSF employees are extraordinarily rude, smug, belligerent, and aggressive and blame students for their own laziness, they are extremely disorganized and the structures are decrepit and disgusting, everyone is disorganized and staffers regularly ignore you or mock you. Furthermore most of the Math professors don’t speak English fluently and most professors refuse to meet for office hours and don’t respond to e-mails or questions during the class and mock students smugly. Fire them all and let’s merge with College of San Mateo and let’s get real educators who care and speak English in our new buildings. Also the “sparkling buildings” where not at the cost of not improving other areas, they were paid for by a ballot measure the citizens of San Francisco pushed in order to modernize our repulsive buildings.

Sponsored by

Become a KQED sponsor