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Pelosi, Speier put City College accreditors in the crosshairs

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House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, pictured at Mission High School in October 2014, has called for the denial of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges as a recognized accreditor. (Erica Marquez/2014 Special to S.F. Examiner)
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Politicians on the national stage are calling to shut down the very accreditors who nearly shut the doors on City College of San Francisco.

House minority leader Nancy Pelosi, Rep. Jackie Speier and Rep. Anna Eshoo penned a joint letter Sept. 9 calling on federal agencies to deny the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges its recognition, which would essentially end its operation.

The fiery condemnation comes at a crucial time for the group that sought to deny City College its accreditation. The ACCJC is undergoing its own “recognition” process with the U.S. Department of Education and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity.

“We are writing the Department of Education to deny the [ACCJC] as a recognized accreditor, and to provide assistance to the California Community College (CCC) system — the largest higher education system in our country — as they transition to a new accreditor,” the politicians wrote in a letter that was first obtained by Politico.

In response, ACCJC President Barbara Beno said the ACCJC is mostly in compliance with federal rules.

“We believe that ACCJC complies with federal recognition criteria; in its last review, ACCJC had a few small things to correct and has done so with guidance,” from department of education staff, Beno wrote in a statement.

“We are confident that the Secretary’s decisions on recognition are based on each agency’s compliance with federal regulatory requirements,” she added.

Pelosi, Speier and Eshoo’s letter paints a far harsher picture of the ACCJC. It goes on to say the ACCJC’s “unfair and opaque actions” continue to “plague” the California Community College system, which consists of more than 120 colleges.

The US Department of Education declined to go on record to speak about the ACCJC’s recognition or to answer claims made by Pelosi, Speier and Eshoo.

However, the agency did say the ACCJC’s review is expected to be discussed at a December meeting of NACIQI, and a formal announcement on that meeting is expected in November.

The agency’s “senior designated official” then has 90 days to make a decision on the future of the ACCJC, which would give California community colleges 18 months to find new accreditors.

City College was also placed on “restoration status” by the ACCJC in 2015, meaning it has until next January to meet all accreditation standards — or perhaps again face the possibility of losing its accreditation.

City College of San Francisco did not respond to requests for comment.

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