CCSF absent from agenda for accrediting commission meeting

Despite requests to extend the accreditation compliance deadline for City College of San Francisco, the accrediting body for more than 130 colleges is not scheduled to discuss the fate of the embattled school at its final meeting of the year, which begins today.

Several politicians have stepped out in the past few weeks to defend CCSF and urge the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to give California's largest community college more time to come into compliance with accreditation standards.

But the commission, which last summer voted to strip CCSF of its accreditation by July 31 if the college did not meet certain requirements, maintains it does not have the authority to extend the school's deadline. Commission spokesman Dave Hyams confirmed Tuesday that the matter is not on the commission's public agenda this week.

Two days of the commission's three-day meeting, scheduled through Friday, will be closed sessions. The third day will be open to the public, during which 15 minutes of public comment are scheduled, Hyams said.

The agenda lists a number of items, including the possible adoption of revised accreditation standards and eligibility requirements. But noticeably absent — to the frustration of many CCSF supporters — is a discussion on extending the school's accreditation deadline.

The California legislature urged the ACCJC to acknowledge the college's “significant” improvements through the passage of two resolutions last week, and U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, recently wrote that refusing to allow CCSF more time “would be destructive, irresponsible and could be viewed as a political act.”

Pelosi also pointed to a letter she received from the U.S. Department of Education, which stated the commission has the power to reconsider or rescind its termination of accreditation from CCSF.

Commission President Barbara Beno said last week that the commission had not received such confirmation in writing from the Department of Education, and the commission would not be swayed by political pressure.

“The public interest is best served if accreditation is not politically driven,” Beno said. “It would be a diminishment to the value of accreditation if the decisions are being made to political pressures.”

Meanwhile, community college faculty and students from across the state are planning a rally late Friday morning before the public meeting, said Fred Glass, a spokesman for the California Federation of Teachers.

“We'll be protesting the clear ability of the ACCJC to extend the time for City College that they're not taking advantage of,” Glass said.In January, a judge barred the commission from taking any action until a lawsuit filed by The City has been resolved, meaning the July 31 deadline is essentially moot. The termination was not linked to academics.

Losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.

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