(Ekevara Kitpowsong/S.F. Examiner file photo)

CCSF in dispute with faculty union over counselor reassignments

A recent staffing change at City College of San Francisco to better meet accrediting standards has caused an uproar with the school’s faculty union.

The college reassigned two of four counselors, who serve students with academic issues that put them at risk of losing financial aid, to different programs at the Ocean Avenue campus on May 9, according to CCSF spokesperson Jeff Hamilton.

The Accreditation Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which will decide next winter whether CCSF remains accredited, has criticized the college for its unequal distribution of student services.

The changes upset the American Federation of Teachers 2121, which claims the move took away financial aid resources from students at the main campus to instead serve a group of some 300 students enrolled in the smaller programs for at-risk students.

In their previous positions, counselors Cindy Nim and James Macale primarily helped students who filed an appeal after their financial aid was denied, said union head Tim Killikelly.

“That service is now gone on the Ocean campus,” Killikelly said.

But Hamilton said there are still 25 credentialed staff in the main Financial Aid Office at Ocean Avenue to help students with financial aid issues. However, not all of the workers can provide such counseling services to students.

The union also claims the counselors were replaced with a 15-minute video, which students who were suspended from receiving financial aid due to their poor academic performance can view to reinstate their financial aid.

Hamilton said the video was recently implemented to meet ACCJC standards. While it does serve a function that the counselors performed, it “had nothing to do with replacing them,” Hamilton said.

CCSF has also has hired five more financial aid workers to work at campuses throughout The City to meet ACCJC requirements, Hamilton said.

“We’re not scaling back or reducing,” he said. “We’re simply trying to give access at different locations.”

The feud over the two counselors who were reassigned started more than a year ago when the counselors first raised privacy issues with the college, according to both the union and CCSF.

The counselors were working out of a converted classroom in Cloud Hall — separate from the main Financial Aid Office — without dividers for students to privately discuss their personal information.

After disagreements between the counselors and administration over installing cubicle dividers or building actual offices in the room, CCSF decided the counselors would be better suited in the Guardian Scholars program for foster youth and Homeless At-Risk Transitional Students Program.

The counselors will start in their new positions in the upcoming school year.

Killikelly, however, questioned whether their reassignments are the right fits for the workers.

“It’s not their area of expertise,” Killikelly said. “These people have never worked [in those programs].”

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