CCSF Board of Trustees Votes Against Holding ACCJC Accountable

It has been six months since Judge Curtis Karnow ruled in favor of San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera’s challenge to the decision by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to revoke the accreditation of City College of San Francisco, about which I have been reporting on this blog. (Links to all my previous posts may be found at the end of this post from November 2014.)  Two weeks ago, AFT Local 2121, the CCSF faculty union, posted the following on their website, which suggests that the struggle to save the college is far from over. 

Board of Trustees votes 4-2 not to join with City Attorney Herrera and seek enforcement of the injunction against the ACCJC.

Despite overwhelming support from the faculty and students and a clear consensus that the ACCJC has not provided the College with the evidence that Judge Karnow’s Injunction calls for, the Board of Trustees voted 4-2 on Monday [June 8] not to join as a Real Party in Interest with City Attorney Dennis Herrera. This non-action effectively kills any attempt to get the ACCJC to actually obey the injunction.

Board members, Rafael Mandelman, Amy Bacharach, Alex Randolph and Steve Ngo voted against joining with City Attorney Herrera. Board members John Rizzo and Brigitte Davila voted for joining.

The faculty is disappointed and frustrated by this poor decision. We hope this will not have negative consequences for our college going forward. We think that this decision signals to the ACCJC that they can continue to act in outrageous and illegal ways with impunity. Board President Rafael Mandelman clearly saw it differently. He has stated that this lack of action does not signal that the Board is not willing to stand up to the ACCJC to defend the college in the future. We hope that is true. In the future there will be other key decision points and we hope the Board stands up for the college and the community when those moments arise.

Below is a letter CFT President Josh Pechthalt send to Board President Rafael Mandelman outlining the reasons why the District should have joined with City Attorney Dennis Herrera in enforcing the injunction.

June 5, 2015

Rafael Mandelman
Chair, Board of Trustees
City College of San Francisco
50 Phelan, San Francisco, CA

Dear Mr. Mandelman,

On behalf of the California Federation of Teachers (CFT) I am writing to request the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) Board of Trustees formally join with the San Francisco City Attorney, as a Real Party in Interest, to request that the Court enforce compliance by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) with the court order issued by Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow regarding notice and reconsideration of its 2013 decision disaccrediting CCSF.

As laid out in the court injunction, the ACCJC was supposed to issue a Written Report that “clearly identifies any deficiencies in City College’s compliance with accreditation standards as of June 2013.” In regards to the 10 – 11 new deficiencies ACCJC did no such thing and thus failed to provide the notice required by the Court.

The order also lays out in paragraph 3 that the ACCJC “set forth the evidence as of June 2013 which supported the finding of deficiency.” ACCJC did not set forth the evidence as to each of the 10-11 new deficiencies, again not providing the notice the court intended.

Finally, the ACCJC offered no evidence that the Commission itself had reviewed the College’s self- study and the team report, and had set forth the evidence establishing the stated deficiencies

It is our view, the view of AFT local 2121, that of the CCSF Academic Senate, the college’s administration including its legal counsel and the state trustee that the judicially-ordered Written Report served by ACCJC fails to satisfy the court’s directive. This is simply unacceptable.

Among the many reasons that report falls short of the necessary due process is that it lacks “clear” identification of deficiencies and does not set forth evidence in support of each finding. Moreover, it makes virtually no effort to separate bare conclusory statements from the factual evidence. Indeed, not once does the Report separately list the factual evidence.

ACCJC’s non-compliance with the court order makes it virtually impossible that City College will be able to respond fully and effectively to the ACCJC’s report, because the College does not know exactly what ACCJC found to be deficient, nor the factual evidence relied upon. This will make it more likely that reconsideration will be denied, should the College unwittingly fail to address the specifics that the Commission has in mind. Even more troubling, since the College cannot seek review or appeal of disaccreditation after Restoration Status, the lack of clarity in ACCJC’s report takes on enormous importance and could doom the enormous efforts of City College to meet ACCJC demands.

We are sure the SF City Attorney is willing to go back to Judge Karnow and request enforcement of the injunction so long as they are joined by City College as a Real Party in Interest. Such a joinder should not require much in the expenditure of resources – the College just must file court papers saying that as the Real Party in Interest, it joins in the City Attorney’s motion. On behalf of the faculty, staff and students of CCSF we strongly encourage you to do so.

The ACCJC has evaded its responsibility to the college and to the court. We strongly believe that Judge Karnow will assure that his carefully crafted decision, calling for basic due process and notice for the College, is satisfied. This means that by joining as a RPI leading to more clarity is to will be gained as to what ACCJC found deficient in 2013, the evidence it relied upon, and what it expects City College to correct during the Restoration Process.


Joshua Pechthalt
President, California Federation of Teachers

One thought on “CCSF Board of Trustees Votes Against Holding ACCJC Accountable

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