Court dismisses lawsuit over CCSF accreditation loss

Beth LaBerge/2012 S.f. Examiner file photoState Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymen Phil Ting and Tom Ammiano this week introduced companion resolutions urging the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to extend its July 31 deadline for CCSF to come into compliance with accrediting requirements.

Beth LaBerge/2012 S.f. Examiner file photoState Sen. Mark Leno and Assemblymen Phil Ting and Tom Ammiano this week introduced companion resolutions urging the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges to extend its July 31 deadline for CCSF to come into compliance with accrediting requirements.

In a setback for City College of San Francisco supporters, a Superior Court judge in San Francisco has dismissed a lawsuit challenging the attempted revocation of the school’s accreditation.

The lawsuit, brought on by the Save CCSF Coalition — comprising faculty, staff and students — claimed the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges did not follow proper due process before voting last June to terminate CCSF’s accreditation.

On Tuesday, Judge Curtis Karnow granted the commission’s motion to strike the lawsuit, saying he disagrees with the lawsuit’s labeling of the ACCJC’s decision as illegal or unfair.

Petitioners filed the complaint in November alleging that the accrediting body reviewed CCSF’s accreditation at a time when the commission and City College were in a “political battle concerning the proper role for community colleges in the education system.”

According to the lawsuit, the accrediting commission was biased in its review of CCSF and used “lawless methods” to revoke the community college’s accreditation. The agency voted to terminate accreditation effective this July, unless the school did not come into compliance with commission standards and eligibility requirements. The decision was not linked to academics. ACCJC President Barbara Beno’s husband served on one of the evaluation teams, which the lawsuit claimed is unfair.

“Obviously we feel that, like the city attorney, the ACCJC has a political agenda and that they were biased in their evaluation of our college,” said Wendy Kaufmyn, a petitioner for the Save CCSF lawsuit and professor at the school.

Similar lawsuits remain pending against the accrediting commission, including one by City Attorney Dennis Herrera. In January a judge granted a preliminary injunction that prevents accreditation from being revoked until the civil trial is completed. Losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.

Kaufmyn said she’s disappointed with Karnow’s ruling last week but said she and others remain committed to ensuring CCSF doesn’t lose its accreditation.

“Regardless of this setback, we are heartened that there is a growing awareness in the academic community and the community at large that the ACCJC is a rogue agency that needs to be called to accountability,” Kaufmyn said.

ACCJC Chairwoman Sherrill Amador called the Save CCSF Coalition’s lawsuit “frivolous,” and she expressed satisfaction with Karnow’s decision.

“[The lawsuit] was brought by a private third party that sought to interfere with the quality assurance process and did not serve the public interest,” Amador said in a statement. “We are pleased this lawsuit has been effectively dismissed.”Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior CollegesBay Area NewsCity College of San FranciscoeducationSave CCSF Coalition

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