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Judge Considers Arguments to Keep City College Open — or Not

| December 30, 2013
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A rally to save City College of San Francisco in July 2013.

A rally to save City College of San Francisco in July 2013. (Ryder Diaz/KQED) 

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.

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Category: Education, News, San Francisco

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  • aj

    Sclar said of the plaintiffs, “What they’re asking the court to do is effectively shut us down.”

    ACCJC keeps misrepresenting City Attorney’s position. City Attorney’s actual proposed motion for injunction is:

    1. “Order ACCJC to vacate the improper Show Cause and Termination decisions against City College” [impropriety in due process procedure corroborated by Dept of Education Final Staff Staff Report--aj];
    2. “Enjoin ACCJC from engaging in accreditation evaluations of any of California’s IN A MANNER THAT VIOLATES APPLICABLE FEDERAL OR STATE LAW” [my CAPS for emphasis--aj]

    So what Sclar is really talking about is shutting down ACCJC from ACTING IN VIOLATION of its own, federal and state policies, procedures and regulations.

    ALSO: Would people in our SF Bay Area community be hurt more by shut-down of CCSF, or by shut-down of ACCJC?

    • Guest

      Shut down CCSF.

    • Frequentshopper

      Gee, you left out the part where Herrara’s motion complained that there were not enough teachers on the accreditation board. Who’s misrepresenting who?

  • guest

    What is the point of keeping a failing school open? How MANY of these students go on to GRADUATE from a 4-year University? I would bet…NOT MANY; therefore, what is the point?
    These are the questions that need answers and not the wishes of people who do not take their education seriously.

    Now back to listening to the Graphene discussion on WAMU

    • aj

      per US Dept of Education’s own College Scorecard Completion Rate statistics http://collegecost.ed.gov/scorecard/ :

      CCSF: 25.7% (medium)

      Gavilan College (ACCJC Commissioner Kinsella’s school): 19% (low)

      West Valley (ACCJC Commissioner Gornick’s school): 20.1% (medium)

      bottom-line: CCSF outperforms ACCJC Commissioners’ schools!

      • Frequentshopper

        Yes, and that convinces me they should not be allowed to judge their own school’s performance, nothing more. The CA Teacher’s Union, Tom Ammiano, former teacher, and Dennis Herrara want to pack a accreditation review board with teachers.

  • Frequentshopper

    If the teachers at City College really care about students being able to graduate why did they do away with the seniority system and switch to to the first come, first served system of class signup without first informing the students and getting feedback? I paid for my classes out of my own pocket. If I had to pay late in the semester due to lack of funds I could not get into classes that were already filled with a lot of students coming here from Japan, China, France, Italy etc., many of whom had their tuition paid by their government.

    The department chair for Graphic Communications was so out of touch with the economic conditions we students face in this economy that he was proud of having made the change even after hearing of the result. The only time I ever had a student try to get me to help them cheat on a test was one Cinese student and one Italian student and the teacher didn’t even ask me who it was when I complained that the Italian student was cheating on the prerequisite waiver exam for this oversubscribed class (why waive prerequisites for an oversubscribed class?) Result, 10 honest, American students didn’t get in the class. Luckily I got in. Dishonest Italian girl did too. She cheated on every test in that class, and complained to other male students who helped her that I would not help her. She was pretty and expected it. The BEMA department chair did nothing when I told her.