CFT and AFT 2121 Unions demand that CCSF sanctions be lifted
Unions demand that CCSF sanctions be lifted
By Nanette Asimov
Labor leaders representing college faculty across California demanded Wednesday that an accrediting commission withdraw a decision that could close City College of San Francisco next year, now that federal officials have found that the commission violated procedures.
The unions say they are already talking with attorneys about what legal action they might take if the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges refuses to reverse its recent decision to revoke the accreditation of City College next summer because of extensive problems in governance and fiscal controls.
“We call on the accrediting commission to announce that City College will remain open and fully accredited beyond 2014 so students will enroll with full confidence,” said Joshua Pechthalt, president of the California Federation of Teachers, which represents instructors at 112 community colleges.
He made his remarks on the first day of school for City College, which opened with nearly 3,000 fewer students than last fall, a drop of 10 percent. This year, 25,813 students are taking classes for credit, compared with 28,753 last year. Throughout the year, about 85,000 students come and go, making the college one of the largest in the country.
‘We think it’s time’
“We have lost a tremendous amount of students,” said Alisa Messer, president of the City College faculty union, who joined Pechthalt and other union leaders in calling for the commission to reverse its accrediting decision. “But the quality of education has never been questioned, so we think it’s time for the commission to reverse its decision.”
In April, the unions filed a complaint about the commission with the U.S. Department of Education, which oversees the six regional commissions that accredit the nation’s community colleges.
The unions called the commission overly harsh with all the colleges in their region, but said it crossed the line during its yearlong scrutiny of City College. They also accused the commission of skirting its rules and engaging in conflicts of interest – including assigning the husband of commission President Barbara Beno to serve on the visiting team that evaluated City College in 2012.
In its letter to Beno on Tuesday, the Education Department upheld that complaint and said the commission lacked a clear policy on conflicts of interest and should not have let the president’s spouse judge the college.
The letter said the commission was also out of compliance with federal regulations in three other areas and, like City College, could lose its right to stay in business unless it takes immediate action to correct the problems.
Yet the Education Department told The Chronicle on Wednesday that its findings have no direct bearing on City College’s accrediting troubles, although the findings could become part of the appeal the college intends to file. The appeal, however, is made to the commission – not the Education Department.
The three other findings were: