City College of San Francisco has been given some breathing room — for now.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge ruled Thursday that the college cannot be stripped of its accreditation in July, as scheduled, until the outcome of ongoing litigation.
The City Attorney’s Office, which filed the suit accusing the accreditation body that oversees CCSF of treating the school unfairly, requested in late December for a preliminary injunction barring the loss of accreditation until the case is complete.
Judge Curtis Karnow granted that request, but denied another one that would have stopped the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges from taking similar adverse actions across the state until it rectifies issues outlined by the U.S. Department of Education.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s case, filed in August, alleges that the ACCJC allowed “political bias, improper procedures, and conflicts of interest to unlawfully influence its evaluation of the state’s largest community college.”
On Thursday, Karnow also denied a similar injunction request by the school’s faculty union and denied attempts to halt the litigation by the ACCJC.
The court action is just one part of the ongoing saga of the school after its accreditation was threatened last summer and its elected board was stripped of power and replaced by a special trustee.
The school, which remains open and accredited, is not a party to any of the lawsuits.
“Today is a pretty good day for City College,” said Alisa Messer, president of American Federation of Teachers Local 2121.
Meanwhile, Robert Agrella, the special trustee for CCSF, wrote in a statement Thursday that, “Today’s court ruling does not alter City College of San Francisco’s plan to continue to fix the problems that have threatened the college’s long-term survival.”
In letter sent to Herrera on Thursday, state community college Chancellor Brice Harris seemed to intimate that the case could impact the school, specifically the media’s interpretation of the ruling and the subsequent influence on enrollment.
“Characterizations that the cases before the court are a ‘last-ditch’ effort to ‘save’ CCSF are inaccurate and will do additional damage to enrollment. It also detracts from progress made in the areas of reform, stability and accountability.”
“We are doing everything in our power to ensure a positive outcome regarding accreditation, and I have every expectation that the ACCJC will acknowledge that college’s progress in the coming months,” the letter says.
Herrera, who had not received the letter by Thursday, said he does not expect the ruling to be appealed.
No trial date has been set, said Herrera, but Karnow indicated that he would like the trial to begin in early summer.