Yesterday I posted another in my continuing series of entries on the accrediting situation at City College of San Francisco (CCSF), in which I reported on indications that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) had “blinked,” proposing new guidelines that would establish a new “accreditation restoration status.” My post included the text of a letter that AAUP sent to the Commission in support of this change. I also reported that ACCJC’s own appeals panel “had blocked CCSF’s accreditation revocation and required the commission to take a new look at City College’s progress since spring 2013, which the commission had earlier refused stubbornly to do.” Soon after someone from AFT Local 2121, which represents faculty at CCSF and has been waging a difficult and truly noble fight to save their college, contacted me to suggest that my post may have been overly optimistic.
I don’t think so, since I was mainly reporting on developments and not so much commenting on their significance. Nevertheless, my post could be read as suggesting that the battle for CCSF is over; that the “good guys” have won. That, alas, is hardly the case. But perhaps at this point it is best for me to allow our colleagues in AFT 2121 to speak for themselves.
Here is the text of a public letter sent to CCSF Chancellor Arthur Tyler on June 13 by AFT 2121 President Timothy Killikelly:
Dear Chancellor Tyler,
The American Federation of Teachers (AFT) Local 2121 has serious reservations about the proposed Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) termination policy which would allow an institution facing termination of its accreditation to seek accreditation restoration status. The ACCJC continues to be an unreliable accreditor. In action after action they have distorted information and in a recent letter to Leader Pelosi wholly made up facts all to the detriment our beloved college. The litany of their misdeeds is too lengthy to recite in this letter.
There has been a lot of hard work done at the college these last couple of years. Today, we believe City College of San Francisco (CCSF) is, as you and others have stated, in substantial compliance with accreditation standards. The ACCJC, even at this late date, could send a team to verify this. You have stated that if the current ACCJC appeals process fails that the college is prepared to go to Federal Court. We applaud you in making that statement to ensure that all options to defend the college remain available.
Although successful pursuit of accreditation restoration status would afford the college more time to attempt to attain full accreditation, it appears that the college may also be giving up certain key rights to appeal and review of ACCJC’s decisions in the process. We fear that acceptance of this process may lead to the ultimate misdeed of the ACCJC: the disaccreditation of the college leaving it without any course of action.
AFT 2121 respectfully requests that CCSF seeks and obtains documented guarantees from the ACCJC that participation in any accreditation review and/or restoration process in no way waives the college’s appeal of any adverse decision.
We look forward to further communication with you on this crucial issue.
Thank you for your consideration.
AFT Local 2121
And here is a report from President Killikelly on the appeals panel decision:
Besides the new ‘restoration status’ policy announced last week, ACCJC’s hand-picked appeals panel released its decision on CCSF. There are important elements of the recent ruling on the CCSF Appeal that should not be overlooked.
1) The Hearing Appeal Panel rejected all of CCSF’s claims for appeal with one exception. The hearing panel concluded “good cause” existed to allow consideration of new evidence so as to determine whether CCSF “is now” in substantial compliance with accreditation standards.
2) The Hearing Appeal Panel ruled that the ACCJC must look at evidence from June 7th, 2013 to May 21, 2014 (and the most recent audit report) in considering the termination of CCSF’s accreditation. A decision of the ACCJC would not take place until they go through their analysis and decide whether to allow more time, accredit, or terminate or make some other unforeseen decision. This is what Chancellor Tyler over optimistically referred to as a “set aside” of the termination decision in his email to the college community on June 13th, 2014.
3) The ruling by the Hearing Appeal Panel suggests that the ACCJC can circumvent its own rules and processes if it wants to and create new ones for just the CCSF case. Furthermore CCSF would not get to do a self evaluation, and has no right to review the information. No timeline for this process was spelled out in the decision.
We will keep you informed as events unfold.