Board of Governors to discuss plan for restoring control to CCSF trustees

For the first time since the board of trustees lost its power last year after City College of San Francisco's accreditation was threatened, a deadline has been recommended for restoring local control.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris is expected to present a report at the Board of Governors meeting Monday that suggests CCSF trustees should regain their authority over school matters no later than July 1, 2016. Control would be phased in gradually over a period no less than 12 months and no more than 18 months, according to the report.

The plan intentionally returns power to trustees during CCSF's two-year restoration period. The school will find out if it qualifies for that status by January. CCSF remains open and fully accredited as it prepares to be visited by an evaluation team this week.

CCSF trustees lost their power in 2013, when Robert Agrella was named a special trustee following the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges' decision to revoke the school's accreditation the following year. In July, Agrella was reinstated in that role for another year, through July 8, 2015.

Per the recommendation, restoring the elected trustees would involve six phases: training and orientation, an initial board meeting without authority, restoring authority to the board in student services and education programming, power for all areas other than finance, return of control of CCSF finances and then full authority.

“This transition process is part of ensuring that City College meets accreditation standards and eligibility requirements,” said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the state Chancellor's Office. “For them to fully meet all the standards, they have to have a fully functioning local governing board.”

But John Rizzo, the sole incumbent re-elected to the board Nov. 4, and newly elected Trustee Thea Selby said local control should be restored sooner.

“A two-year timeline does not make sense,” Rizzo said, adding that six months would be “a reasonable approach.”

This month's election saw a nearly 50 percent turnover on the board, Selby noted.

“We have a new board, we have new people, we have fresh perspectives — all of that should be taken into account,” she said.

Rizzo pointed out that Assembly Bill 2087, which ensures the state Board of Governors does not temporarily unseat elected trustees unless certain conditions are met, could have prevented the Board of Governors from implementing a special trustee in place of the elected trustees if the law had been in place in 2013. Gov. Jerry Brown signed the bill in September.

“Under the conditions of 2087, the board of trustees should be making the decisions right now,” said Rizzo.

Additionally, the plan to restore power to trustees does not mention the lawsuit filed by the City Attorney's Office against the ACCJC over the commission's alleged unfair evaluations of CCSF, which Rizzo said could render restoration status moot if The City prevails.

“If the judge sides with The City, there's no legal justification for withholding voter control over the district,” Rizzo said.

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