Accrediting commission asks judge to toss City College lawsuit

Beth LaBergeThe City College  Chinatown/North Beach Campus at 808 Kearney St on Nov. 7

Beth LaBergeThe City College Chinatown/North Beach Campus at 808 Kearney St on Nov. 7

A regional commission that is revoking City College of San Francisco’s accreditation effective next year asked a judge Monday not to consider a lawsuit that seeks to overturn the commission’s ruling.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges issued an order in July revoking the school’s accreditation effective July 31, 2014, prompting lawsuits by the City Attorney’s Office and two teachers unions that say the commission did not give City College proper due process before making its decision.

An attorney for the ACCJC told San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow on Monday that it should not be up to the court to decide whether the commission properly sanctioned City College.

Attorneys for the City Attorney’s Office and the accrediting commission were in Karnow’s courtroom for a motion filed by the commission to have the judge abstain from taking up the case.

Last week, Karnow also heard arguments on requests by the plaintiffs for a preliminary injunction that would block the revocation of the school’s accreditation until a trial is held on the matter.

ACCJC attorney Andrew Sclar told the judge he should not intervene in the case because the U.S. Department of Education already determines whether a commission acted properly by subjecting it to regular reviews to maintain its recognition as an accreditor.

“Adjudicating the case … would require that the court assume the powers of the Department of Education,” Sclar said.

He said the Department of Education has already issued staff reports recommending that the ACCJC maintain its recognition despite complaints from the City Attorney’s Office about the City College case.

“What they’re asking the court to do is effectively shut us down,” Sclar said of the plaintiffs.

However, Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg said the judge should intervene because the ruling to revoke City College’s accreditation as soon as next year is causing students to leave in droves.

She said the Department of Education found problems with the ACCJC’s accrediting process for City College, including that commission president Barbara Beno appointed her husband to the team evaluating the school, creating an alleged conflict of interest.

“If the ACCJC goes back and does a review under the guidelines of the law … we have no problem with that,” Eisenberg said. Karnow said Monday afternoon that he expects to issue rulings on all of the motions by Friday.

The judge indicated at last week’s hearing that a potential trial in the case could occur as soon as June, with the goal of ending before the July 31 accreditation deadline.Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior CollegesBay Area NewsCity College of San FranciscoeducationSan Francisco City Attorney’s Office

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