City College of San Francisco to lose accreditation; faces closure in 2014 

click to enlarge City College of San Francisco
  • Cindy Chew/S.F. Examiner file photo
  • City College of San Francisco had its accreditation revoked. The college may appeal the ruling, but unless it is successful it will close in 2014.

City College of San Francisco faces closure in 2014 after an accrediting agency revoked the school's accreditation in a ruling released Wednesday afternoon.

State and city officials, however, say they are going to fight to keep the college open.

"I'm extremely disappointed that the progress CCSF made over the past year was not enough to bring the college into compliance," state Chancellor of California Community Colleges Brice Harris said. "College leaders and my office will do everything in our power to see City College retains accreditation."

The ruling means the state's largest community college will no longer have "quality assurance" and does not meet program criteria. Without accreditation, the college and students who attend it will not qualify for federal or state financial aid.

Unless officials are able to successfully appeal the decision by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, by July 31, 2014, the college, which serves roughly 85,000 students, will lose its accreditation and effectively close.

Because of the ruling, the state Chancellor's Office will appoint a special trustee to run the college for the next year in hopes of bringing it back into compliance and remaining open. The locally elected board of trustees would no longer have a say in how the college is run.

It is not known who will be appointed to step in. But, Harris said, the special trustee will have the authority to make sweeping changes to programs and even campuses that would normally take longer. The special trustee, who is expected to be appointed as soon as Monday, cannot void collective bargaining agreements, such as teacher contracts. Those must still be negotiated.

Still, there are options for CCSF. College officials can appeal the accrediting commission's decision, which they said they will do. They have until July 31 to file the appeal with the commission, which will then review and start the appeal process that can take months, Harris said.

While the appeal review is happening, City College will also need to work with surrounding colleges to ensure students can transfer and complete degrees in case the ruling is not reversed.

In the meantime, CCSF will remain operating as an accredited institution for the next year. During that time, college officials will continue to improve and make reforms, interim Chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman said.

"There has been a tremendous amount of progress made to all recommendations as well as various standards, but we're still far short what needs to occur," she said.

Mayor Ed Lee said he too will work to save the college, noting City College is too important for San Francisco to lose.

The ruling came one year after the same commission put City College on a "show cause" sanction, meaning the institution had to prove why it should keep operating after numerous violations in finances and management were found. A total of 14 recommendations were made to the college.

Since receiving its show-cause sanction, City College has adopted a new mission statement, reorganized its departments, closed several campuses, instituted layoffs and implemented student-outcome tracking systems, among many other changes.

The work college officials have done over the last year was not enough to give City College a second chance, the commission ruled.

City College effectively addressed two of the 14 recommendations and corrected only a few of the deficiencies cited by the commission, according to the ruling.

"Additionally, CCSF is significantly out of compliance with many Accreditation Standards, including standards for instructional programs, students support services, library and learning support services, and facilities," the ruling stated.

The accreditation ruling comes days before findings from an investigation from the U.S. Department of Education are expected to be released. The investigation is the result of a 300-page complaint filed by the California Federation of Teachers alleging misconduct by the accrediting commission for giving CCSF its harshest sanction. Misconduct allegations include the fact that one of the members of the visiting team is the spouse of the president of the commission. The accrediting commission ruled last month on a similar complaint that no violations occurred.


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