California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris has rejected a legal complaint challenging the authority of local academic senates.

The challenge by California Competes, an Oakland-based nonprofit organization, alleged that two sections of Title 5 of the Education Code violate state law because they allow local trustees to rely on the judgment of the faculty when making decisions about academic issues. California Competes’ complaint also said the regulation has led to “a tangled bureaucracy” and dysfunctional decision making at community colleges, and disenfranchises other members of the college community such as students and staff.

In an official response to the attorney for California Competes, Harris wrote that after carefully reviewing the complaint with the community college attorney, “I have concluded that the regulations are not unlawful. Furthermore, California Competes’ positions regarding public policy, although well-meaning, are seriously flawed.”

Harris wrote that “shared governance is good public policy,” and said the regulations have been in place for more than 20 years and have been working well in the “overwhelming majority” of community college districts. California Competes has not yet seen the chancellor’s response and withheld comment.

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