Judge Considers Arguments to Keep City College Open — or Not
Legal efforts to keep City College of San Francisco open and accredited continued Monday.
As News Fix reported last week, San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow heard arguments Thursday over two lawsuits — one filed by CCSF faculty, a second by the city of San Francsco — that seek to block a move to revoke the college’s accreditation.
The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has recommended revoking CCSF’s credentials on July 31, 2014, because of what it says are persistent administrative and financial shortcomings. This would block the state funding upon which CCSF depends and force it to close. CCSF serves about 80,000 students.
City Attorney Dennis Herrera and two teachers’ unions brought lawsuits against the accrediting agency, arguing it did not give CCSF proper due process before making its decision.
Karnow said today that he will make a ruling by the end of this week on whether to block the decision by the ACCJC, or to reject the lawsuits brought against it.
San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera and two teachers’ unions — the California Federation of Teachers and American Federation of Teachers Local 2121 — brought separate lawsuits against the ACCJC, arguing that the commission did not give CCSF proper due process before making its decision.
According to Bay City News:
Andrew Sclar, an attorney for the ACCJC, told the judge today that he should not intervene in the case because the U.S. Department of Education already determines whether a commission acted properly by subjecting it to regular reviews to maintain its recognition as an accreditor.
“Adjudicating the case … would require that the court assume the powers of the Department of Education,” Sclar said.
He said the Department of Education has already issued staff reports recommending that the ACCJC maintain its recognition despite complaints from the city attorney’s office about the City College case.
Sclar said of the plaintiffs, “What they’re asking the court to do is effectively shut us down.”
Another attorney for the commission said, at the very least, the case should be stayed until a later date because the administrative review and appeal of the commission’s ruling by the school is still ongoing.
However, Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg said the judge should intervene because the ruling to revoke City College’s accreditation as soon as next year is causing students to leave in droves.
“If we put everything on hold, there will continue to be harm,” Eisenberg said.
She said the Department of Education found problems with the ACCJC’s accrediting process for City College, including that commission president Barbara Beno appointed her husband to the team evaluating the school, creating an alleged conflict of interest.
“If the ACCJC goes back and does a review under the guidelines of the law … we have no problem with that,” Eisenberg said.
Karnow said this afternoon that he expects to issue rulings on all of the motions by Friday. He said if he does not stay or abstain from considering the case, then he will schedule a case management conference to schedule future court hearings.
The judge indicated at last week’s hearing that a potential trial in the case could occur as soon as June, with the goal of ending before the July 31, 2014, accreditation deadline.