Update, Wednesday 3:45 p.m.: City College of San Francisco will get up to two more years to fix its finance and governance problems, and will not be forced to close. The 19-member commission seeking to revoke the college’s accreditation by July released the policy change today under pressure from state lawmakers and federal education officials.

The  commission is now giving the school two years to come into compliance with its accreditation standards. The decision ends two years of uncertainty at the school, which has seen its enrollment drop by thousands of students because of the issue. Because state funding is partly tied to attendance, the school has also lost a significant amount of money.

Original post, Monday:

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges says it will change its terms for terminating accreditation, but no one is quite sure what that means for the fate of City College of San Francisco because the commission hasn’t released any details yet about the changes.

“The commission took an action that appears to have changed the termination rules for accreditation,” CCSF spokesman Larry Kamer said on KQED Newsroom last Friday. “We have no idea what that is. We asked for a copy of that document. We didn’t get it. We’d like to know, because City College, the state chancellor’s office, the mayor’s office had nothing to do with it.”

The commission has indicated it will release its new conditions of termination on Wednesday. The ACCJC declined to make an appearance on KQED Newsroom.

The ACCJC is threatening to yank CCSF’s accreditation on July 31 if the college does not come into full compliance with a list of terms regarding issues of poor college governance and finance. And the commission has taken a hard stance against granting an extension past the July 31 deadline for the college to meet the commission’s demands.

“The accrediting commission is holding firm to this idea that they cannot extend the deadline for City College despite the fact that the U.S. Department of Education, accrediting experts, directors told me and told the state that they may do this, that they’re allowed to extend the deadline,” San Francisco Chronicle reporter Nanette Asimov said.

CCSF is about 95 percent of the way to meeting the commission’s recommendations, according to Kamer, but Board of Trustees member Rafael Mandelman said that, in meeting ACCJC recommendations, other problems have arisen.

“The fear that City College would close has precipitated a radical decline in enrollment, which has significant implications for the college’s finances,” Mandelman said. “So, for every problem that the folks at the college have fixed, there have been new issues that have been created by the way the ACCJC operates.”

Mandelman said the high-water mark for enrollment was about 100,000 students, but the specter of closure has possibly pushed down enrollment below 70,000.

CCSF won a reprieve last January when a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted City Attorney Dennis Herrera an injunction to keep the college open until a trial is held. The lawsuit alleges the ACCJC let political bias and improper procedures influence its decision to revoke the school’s accreditation. The trial is scheduled for October.

“The best-case scenario is we continue to fix our problems and we keep our accreditation. That’s the best-case scenario,” Kamer said. “The lawsuit is helpful in buying additional time, and it speaks to the unity of the city community, the elected community, all in support of City College.”

Last Friday, a rally was held during the semi-annual meeting of the ACCJC in Sacramento. CCSF professor of political science Timothy Killikelly was there to demand “the ACCJC rescind last year’s decision and send a team immediately to City College to show that City College is in substantial compliance with accreditation standards.”

“I’m actually shocked that the ACCJC continues to be so intransigent,” Killikelly said. “You would think that they would be getting the message over and over again. They need to change course. That has not happened as of yet. Thank god for Dennis Herrera and the lawsuit he has. The college is open. It will remain accredited. There will be a trial scheduled in October.”

“The morale of teachers is so low,” Killikelly said. “People are so frustrated. There is this uncertainty that hangs over all the students, the faculty and the staff. And the uncertainty needs to end.”

From KQED Newsroom’s June 6 Program:

KQED NEWSROOM is a weekly news magazine program on television, radio and online. Watch Fridays at 8 p.m. on KQED Public Television 9, listen on Sundays at 6 p.m. on KQED Public Radio 88.5 FM and watch on demand here.

  • Guest

    The ACCJC made the decision in July 2013. A year was given for faculty and students to make plans to move on. ACCJC should not sway in view of political pressure.

    • CCSF-Observer

      CCSF had 8 months to prepare a report that was ultimately responded to
      in July 2013. Incredible improvements continue. ACCJC is under “show
      cause” from the Feds …. so this is quite a complex situation. ACCJC
      needs considerable reform of its own. It’s unclear what improvements
      they have made. CCSF has made amazing improvements and is simply too
      important to San Francisco to close. Period.

      • Guest

        I agree. Everyone at CCSF has worked so hard to bring the College back into compliance in order to earn accreditation. Hopefully ACCJC and Dr. Beno will recognize the hard work to do all of this.

  • is

    It’s a tricky situation for the Dept of Education, and here is the explanation why. Babs Beno and company are the US Dept of Education’s little lap dog. And sometimes its good to have a little lap dog. When friends stop by (MOOCS, University of Phoenix, Tech companies wanting every working class kid to have the latest LamePad, and Student Loan Predators), the little lap dog gets a little treat (i.e. cashola), and a few strokes, and generally makes the friends look like good, kind hearted people. But sometimes, strangers who think the owner and lap dog are a farce (i.e. a gross mistrust of public trust) walk by, and little lap dog gets all worked up. That’s fine, and that is another function of the little lap dog: to protect the US Dept of Education and the institutionalized fraud it has perpetrated on the public to benefit its friends, who profit massively on the back of the working class. Fine so far. Now here’s the problem: Sometimes the little lap dog bites. And that’s the situation we are in now. The ACCJC has proven itself to be dangerous to the public. Just like in life, dogs who bite generate lawsuits, and ultimately get put down. Should we blame the little lap dog? Hell no, it is just trained and scared. Should it be put down? Probably. But ultimately the US Dept of Education should be held accountable for this fiasco. And that explains the tricky situation the US Dept finds itself in now. Their incorrigible little lap dog won’t let go, and by doing so is igniting public outrage because the architecture of the movement to dismantle public education is being exposed for the privatized, billionaire backed sham that it is.

    • Ludicrous2

      What an idiot you are!

  • aj

    What’s finally being exposed now is that the leadership of ACCJC has a penchant for distortion, creative license in presenting “facts”, and outright lying.

    Contrary to their allegations of CCSF’s educational failure, objective measures of CCSF performance by State Chancellor’s Student Success Scorecards and US Dept of Education Scorecard have provided evidence to contradict ACCJC claims.

    The reality of the ACCJC sanctions are that they cooked the books.

    ACCJC leadership ignored Evaluation Team assessments of satisfactory performance and then without providing justication for doing so, created “deficiencies” by fiat instead.

    The trumped up “deficiencies” became the bases for claiming that CCSF had failed miserably to comply with accreditation standards.

    Whatever fiscal problems that CCSF had (which were fixable) pale in comparison to the subsequent fiscal crisis that the ACCJC sanctions created.

    ACCJC itself needs reform and restructuring–exponentially more so than CCSF needs.

    As a baby first step in restoring credibility and legitimacy to the Commission, the leadership of Beno, Amador, Kinsella, and Gornick need to be swept out because of their “conduct detrimental to the purposes of the Commission” according to ACCJC’s own Bylaws.

  • bengoshi

    The CCSF could have been 100% in compliance if they had decided early to correct their mistakes. Instead, they protested, they sued, they called the ACCJC names. If they lose their accreditation, justice will have been served. If they keep their accreditation due to political pressure, justice will not have been served.

  • Matt

    Some entity or consortium is watering their chops over that prime Phelan Avenue real estate. Probably a new Google Complex complete with million dollar condos and all the amenities. I left my heart in “San Frangoogle.”

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