Superior Court Issues Final Injunction in Favor of the People v. the ACCJC

 

Judge reinforces ruling that the commission broke the law in dealing with the CCSF

Statement from Jeff Freitas, Secretary Treasurer, California Federation of Teachers:
 
Yesterday, Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow issued his final ruling in the People v. the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, reinforcing his earlier tentative decision that the Commission broke the law in attempting to revoke City College of San Francisco’s accreditation.
 
This ruling is a vindication of the efforts made to defend City College against the Commission’s inconsistent and unfair actions in handling the school’s accreditation review, and it reaffirms that the ACCJC violated not only common law fair procedure, but federal regulations as well.
 
Significant in yesterday’s ruling is that if City College chooses to have the ACCJC reconsider its sanction against the college, the college would not be putting its accreditation status at risk. In addition, contrary to ACCJC’s usual secretive approach, the judge mandated a more transparent process for such a reconsideration. This is important, and helps to pave a path forward. This ruling is a victory for City College, the City of San Francisco and tens of thousands of students and people in the community who rely on the institution.
 
Taken together with the recent Board of Governors decision to strip the ACCJC of its monopoly accreditor authority, the judge's ruling points to the need for the legislature to take up reform of the accreditation process and its oversight structures in the coming legislative session so that the type of damage inflicted by this rogue agency on CCSF would not be able to occur anywhere else.
 
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The CFT represents more than 25,000 faculty in thirty community colleges districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More information: cft.org.
 

Another Setback for the ACCJC

Community College Board of Governors repeals commission’s accreditation monopoly

 

On January 20, 2015, the California Community College Board of Governors deleted language from Title 5 regulations that gave the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) sole authority over accreditation of the state’s community colleges.

Statement by CFT President Joshua Pechthalt:

The CFT welcomes the Board of Governors’ action this week to remove ACCJC’s monopoly over accreditation regulations. This move, following on the heels of the San Francisco Superior Court’s finding last week that the rogue accreditor broke four laws in its irresponsible decision to disaccredit City College of San Francisco, places the agency on notice that its destructive actions have consequences.
 
This regulatory change was recommended last year by State Auditor Elaine M. Howle, who said that, “…inconsistent application of the accreditation process and a lack of transparency in that process are weakening the accreditation of California's community colleges.”
 
The ACCJC is an agency that is out of compliance and out of control. We realize that further steps will need to be taken before another entity might be able to perform the complex and important work of accreditation of California’s community colleges, but this regulatory change was a necessary prerequisite. It was past time to end the monopoly over accreditation exercised by a commission that has shown by its disregard for fairness, for law, for its own policies, and for the educational future of 80,000 students, that it cannot be trusted, and does not deserve to hold that position any longer. Chancellor Harris and the Board of Governors acted responsibly in putting this building block to accreditation reform in place.
 

Judge Rules Accreditor Acted Illegaly In Terminating City College of San Francisco's Accreditation

 

Today the California Federation of Teachers hosted a press teleconference call to discuss Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow’s ruling in “The People vs. ACCJC.” Participating were CFT president Joshua Pechthalt, Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), AFT Local 2121 president Tim Killikelly, and Shanell Williams, Student Trustee at City College of San Francisco. Here are highlights.

In a vindication of the CFT’s longstanding contention that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) acted illegally in its decision to terminate City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, San Francisco Superior Court judge Curtis Karnow issued his ruling today in “The People vs. ACCJC.”
Judge Karnow found the ACCJC has violated federal regulations and common law fair procedure, and committed “significant unlawful practices,” in its handling of CCSF’s accreditation review. To remedy the violation of City College’s due process, the court ordered the ACCJC to revisit the disaccreditation decision and provide the college with the opportunity to respond to ACCJC actions that it had been denied previously.
California Federation of Teachers president Joshua Pechthalt said, “The judge’s decision is important. It says clearly that the commission broke the law, and that City College of San Francisco must be given a new opportunity to keep its accreditation. But the broader meaning is that the ACCJC is not a fair and constructive overseer of accreditation for California’s community colleges. Its bad behavior was revealed in this trial, and demonstrates the need for reform of community college accreditation in California.”
“ACCJC broke the law,” said Assemblymember Phil Ting (D-San Francisco). “Judge Karnow’s decision clearly states ACCJC is accountable to the people of California and our state laws. The Legislature will discuss and determine if ACCJC needs reform or replacement.”
Speaking of the impact on governance at CCSF, AFT Local 2121 president Tim Killikelly said, “This decision demonstrates that the justification for imposing a ‘specialtrustee with extraordinary powers’ and displacing the democratically elected Board of Trustees at CCSF was wrong. There is no need for a special trustee at CCSF. We call upon the State Chancellor and the state community college Board of Governors for the immediate return of the Board of Trustees.”
In addition, American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten sent a statement of support for the judge’s decision. “The court’s decision confirms what educators, students and the entire San Francisco community have known for years—City College is part of the fabric of San Francisco because of the higher education opportunities it has provided for decades. Its name has been illegally and arbitrarily sullied by a rogue accreditation agency, harming the very people an accrediting body is suppose to help. We know this ruling is only the first step in regaining CCSF’s accreditation and restoring its good name. With a renewed national focus on ensuring community colleges are affordable and accessible to all, we are so pleased that CCSF can continue to provide the high-quality education its students and the community have come to know.”

ACCJC grants City College of San Francisco deceptive "Restoration Status"

Today the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) announced it has granted the application by City College of San Francisco for its so-called "Restoration Status" policy.  The agency, responding to growing critical scrutiny of its arbitrary, inconsistent and illegal actions after it sanctioned CCSF and pulled its accreditation, devised the new policy last year, and basically forced CCSF to apply for it. 

However, "restoration status" leaves CCSF with no right of appeal or review, and allows the college to be shut down even if it meets a standard of "substantial compliance," while other colleges can remain open if they meet the "substantial compliance" standard. 

Tim Killikelly, president of the CCSF faculty union, AFT Local 2121, said, “The Commission always had the authority to grant a two-year "good cause" extension for CCSF, as it has done for many other colleges.  Restoration is a deceptive policy, meant to take the heat that has been growing for two years off the agency as its practices have come to light. It is a ticking time bomb for CCSF, not a real solution to the problems the ACCJC has created for us and our thousands of students.” 

“The decision is more of the same from this rogue commission,” said CFT president Joshua Pechthalt.  “Its press release says “The termination implementation was suspended to permit time for CCSF’s appeal of the action.”  Nothing is further from the truth.  The college stayed open only because a San Francisco Superior Court judge granted an injunction, stating that closure would be a terrible harm to the community. That is still the case today, and we await Judge Karnow’s decision this month in “The People vs. ACCJC” for a fair remedy to the commission’s destructive actions.”

The CFT represents more than 25,000 faculty in thirty community colleges districts, and 120,000 educational employees at every level of the education system, from Head Start to UC. More information: cft.org.