Marchers halted outside the San Francisco Board of Education last March, protesting the possible loss of accreditation for  City College. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)
Marchers halted outside the San Francisco Board of Education last March, protesting the possible loss of accreditation for City College. (Deborah Svoboda/KQED)

The courtroom fight to keep City College of San Francisco open is in extra innings after a marathon hearing Thursday and a second hearing scheduled for Monday.

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow heard a full day or arguments Thursday over two lawsuits — one filed by CCSF faculty, a second by the city of San Francsco — that seek to block a move to revoke the college’s accreditation. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has recommended revoking CCSF’s credentials later this year because of what it calls persistent administrative and financial shortcomings. Loss of accreditation would block the state funding upon which CCSF depends and force it to close. CCSF serves about 80,000 students.

In court yesterday, attorneys for the city and two teachers’ unions argued that the practices the accrediting agency denied CCSF due process. Parties in both suits want Karnow to impose an injunction that would block the loss of accreditation; the city also wants the judge to order the agency to conduct a new accreditation assessment.

Robert Bezemek, an attorney representing the California Federation of Teachers and the City College teachers’ union, American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, told Karnow that the ACCJC acted unlawfully in its decision-making process. CBS SF Bay Area reports:

[Bezemek] said “a significant violation” occurred when a commission staff report found 19 deficiencies with the school and the commission then upped that number to 30 at a June meeting without notifying City College of the additional deficiencies.

Bezemek also cited other problems, including an alleged conflict of interest in allowing commission President Barbara Beno to appoint her husband to the team that evaluated City College.

Bezemek also said the accrediting agency’s’s decision resulted in students leaving City College out of fear that the school may close, and that enrollment was down by as much as 30 percent since last spring.

But accrediting commission attorney Philip Ward said revoking CCSF’s credentials was necessary to bring about change. “There has to be major reorganizing decisions at City College,” Ward said. “Nobody wants to see City College disaccredited. … We’re trying to make sure it gets as good as it can be.”

Karnow will decide whether the plaintiffs have standing to bring forward the lawsuit on Monday, when both sides will return to court. It is not clear when Karnow will decide whether to issue the preliminary injunctions. If granted, they would remain in place until a trial can be held in the case.

  • guest

    Why keep a school open that does not prepare a student to graduate from a four-year University? Have any of you looked a any of the STEM courses and learned that these students cannot do this level of work? Sounds like a scheme…for whom?

    • Chuck Cusumano

      This comment doesn’t make any sense in this context. The accreditation hoopla was never about the quality of education one receives at CCSF.
      For your information, I go to CCSF and take primarily STEM courses. In my experience, the teachers are top notch, the classes are very challenging and instructive, and there are many dedicated and hardworking students. Those of us at CCSF that will soon be transferring to four-year colleges are being very well prepared.

  • Reynolds Laroche

    CCSF needs to crash and burn because it has been a mess for so many
    years that it needs to rebuild from the ground up. It was warned in 2006
    that significant deficiencies existed, yet in their arrogance that
    continues to this day, they ignored all warnings, continued to be
    irresponsible, and now are crying that they are being treated unfairly
    and were never given notice. Student support is a huge joke. Arrogance
    is rampant in the faculty as well as the staff even though I must admit most of my instructors have been excellent as far as knowing their stuff. The local politicians
    and the board of trustees thought they were “above the law”. Well, a
    time comes when there’s price to pay for that kind of thinking.

  • Lou Silva

    All

    I have many friends who are graduates of San Francisco City College and then the University of California at Berkeley. They are civil engineers. I am sure they are not alone. Where are these alumni now, when the SFCC needs their help.

    These folks took advantage of the quality education available here in California. The junior college system keeps kids involved with learning new skills. Every student is not going to a four year program. Don’t we have something better than the low paying fast food jobs?

    Everybody knows that private colleges are costing over $30,000 just for tuition.

    California spends more on our Prisons than post secondary education.

    Is this another example of the Economic Theory of destroying of the “Commons”.
    I was fortunate enough to go to the University of California for $137 per semester.
    Can’t we provide opportunity to our youth. If folks want to come here from outside the US let them pay $30,000 per year.

    As a California Tax payer lets finance education for California Youth and not prisons!!!

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