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CCSF’s accreditor found noncompliant with federal education standards

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City College of San Francisco’s accreditor was out of compliance with federal education standards two years ago and has until next year to prove it has met every standard, the nation’s top education official has ruled.

Acting Secretary of Education John B. King, Jr. on Monday upheld a January 2014 decision by the U.S. Department of Education to find the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges noncompliant with two criteria for recognition to accredit community colleges.

In 2014, federal education officials determined that the ACCJC did not demonstrate enough support from educators, and in fact a number of organizations actually submitted written comments expressing disagreement with the ACCJC’s policies and actions.

Federal education officials also found in 2014 that the ACCJC did not comply with its own policies that call for academics to participate on appeal panels and in evaluation teams.

Both findings were upheld in King’s letter on Monday.

“In this case, the Department expressed a reasonable basis for finding ACCJC noncompliant with the regulations,” King wrote.

He added that the commission will remain recognized, but has 12 months to demonstrate its compliance.

The decision by King is the latest blow to the embattled commission, and follows a recent push by the California Community College Board of Governors for state education officials to establish a new model for accrediting California’s 113 community colleges.

“The Secretary of Education’s order raises questions about the long-term future of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, as it speaks to the acceptance of the organization by educators and colleges,” said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the state chancellor’s office. “As directed by the Board of Governors, the chancellor’s task force on accreditation is developing a proposal for a new model for accrediting California community colleges.”

The ACCJC came under fire by city and state leaders after it sought to strip CCSF of its accreditation in 2013. That move was blocked first by a lawsuit against the commission and then when it created a new policy that gives CCSF until January 2017 to meet all accrediting requirements.

CCSF remains open and fully accredited today.

The commission expressed its disappointment in King’s decision and said it is committed to meeting federal requirements.

“We are disappointed in the decision,” ACCJC President Barbara Beno said in a statement to the San Francisco Examiner. “The ACCJC will comply with the regulations and address the recognition criteria within the one year compliance period.”

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