CCSF to meet with accrediting commission over possible reversal of 2013 decision

City College of San Francisco officials will ask the school’s accrediting commission to reverse its 2013 decision to revoke the school’s accreditation. Mike Koozmin 2014/S.F. Examiner
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Leaders with City College of San Francisco on Wednesday will ask the school’s accrediting commission to reverse its 2013 decision to revoke the school’s accreditation, though it’s unknown what impact that move would have.

The closed-session meeting between the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and CCSF stems from an injunction and judgment handed down in San Francisco Superior Court earlier this year in response to a lawsuit that claimed the commission unfairly voted to strip CCSF of its accreditation two years ago.

CCSF never officially lost its accreditation because the June 2013 decision was to be effective the following summer. Prior to that deadline, the court blocked the commission from going forward with the decision. The school remains open and fully accredited today.

But because CCSF is also in restoration status, a policy that gives the school until January 2017 to meet all accrediting requirements, it is unclear what significant effect — if any — a reversal of the 2013 decision would have on the college.

In February, the commission was ordered by Judge Curtis Karnow to reconsider 10 accreditation standards for which CCSF was found noncompliant in 2013, because the school was found to not have had enough notice to respond to those areas of noncompliance.

“It’s certainly part of my goal, in the injunction, to try to reproduce, to a practicable extent, the conditions under which the termination decision was made,” Karnow said at a hearing in March to clarify his final injunction and judgement.

Regardless of whether the ACCJC reverses its 2013 decision, the school will remain in restoration status, which puts CCSF in a unique position.

“It is absolutely uncharted waters,” said CCSF’s Board of Trustees President Rafael Mandelman. “There is a disagreement about whether it was justified in 2013 to decide that accreditation should be terminated … On this other track, we have to work with [the commission] to meet accreditation standards.”

The ACCJC changing its mind on the 2013 decision would, at the very least, boost the school’s morale, Mandelman noted. He is among the three school leaders who will speak with the ACCJC at Wednesday’s meeting, along with Interim Chancellor Susan Lamb and Special Trustee Guy Lease.

“It would absolutely be a benefit to the college,” Mandelman said of reversing the decision. “That decision they announced in 2013 has created a cascade of problems for the college.”

The ACCJC expects to announce whether it will reverse the 2013 decision by the end of July.

Meanwhile, CCSF is progressing toward full compliance with accrediting standards, Mandelman said. The Board of Trustees this month regained authority over all aspects of the college, including the budget. A fully functioning board is a requirement for accreditation.

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