This story has been updated. Embattled City College of San Francisco has received the final report from the accreditation commission on its progress in making reforms to address a host of financial and management problems. However, the contents of the report won’t be made public until the regional accrediting board issues a final ruling on whether the college will keep its accreditation, said Bob Agrella, the special trustee appointed to keep the college on track to implement its action plan.
The report, which arrived Tuesday, contains the findings of an accreditation team that visited the school the first week of April to see how well the college was doing at fixing the problems that landed it on show cause status, the most severe sanction the commission can impose short of revoking accreditation. The report is not the final decision, however; that is several weeks away.
“The best that we’re hoping for is to be on probation,” Agrella said.
Karen Saginor, outgoing president of the City College faculty senate, read the report and agreed with Agrella. Still, she said she’s believed that probation was probably the college’s best hope since July, when the commission rated CCSF so poorly in its letter placing it on show cause. Even by the college’s own estimation, CCSF has made many improvements but has also lot more to do, Saginor said.
City College officials will be able to address the report when the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) meets June 5-7. Agrella said the college would file a formal request to appear before the commission by May 31, the deadline to get on the agenda.
However, college officials will be able to address only factual errors contained in the commission report and will not be able to make any broader statements about their reform efforts or refute anything in the report.
Commissioners have several possible actions. They could keep the college on show cause for a while longer, reduce the sanction down one level to probation or two levels to warning, remove all sanctions, or they could take the most extreme action and revoke accreditation. That wouldn’t necessarily mean that the state’s largest community college shuts its doors on 85,000 students. More likely is that contiguous districts, such as San Mateo Community College District, would be asked to take over administration of the school.
In a March interview with EdSource Today, commission president Barbara Beno said the commission’s decision on City College will be posted by July 7.
Under federal regulations, colleges can only remain on sanctions for two years. Because City College was placed on show cause on July 2, 2012, it would have only one more year to be free of sanctions before it loses accreditation. However, the commission can choose to impose any new sanction for less than a year.
Agrella said the college is moving ahead as if it will continue to operate, enrolling for summer school and planning the fall 2013 course schedule. Officials are also continuing to implement the school’s action plan, particularly in the area of governance. In the letter to City College in July 2012, when the campus was placed on show cause, the commission cited the school for fiscal mismanagement, lax accountability and a contorted governance structure.
As part of its corrective action, the college didn’t renew employment contracts ending June 30 for all the deans and vice chancellors. They were given the opportunity to reapply for their positions, which have new job descriptions, or to apply for other jobs at the college, including teaching posts. Interviews are under way and Agrella said they hope to have the new hires in place by July 1.