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About a dozen police officers locked out a crowd of constituents who showed up at the administration building of City College of San Francisco in an effort to reclaim their legal right to public comment on crucial decisions affecting the college.
Last summer the State Chancellor of California Community Colleges dismissed the democratically elected Board of Trustees and appointed the Special Trustee With Extraordinary Powers, (STWEP) Robert Agrella to have sole decision making power for the college. Although required by law (Education Code 72121) and board policy (B.P. 1.10) to hold public meetings and provide the public opportunities to participate at these meetings, since coming to power the STWEP has not allowed this. A board “meeting” is the STWEP meeting with himself.
A number of particularly controversial resolutions were scheduled for the Thursday, February 27, 2014 board agenda relating to inflated administrator salaries. Resolution 55 (http://www.ccsf.edu/BOT/2014/February/55.pdf) stated that it will “memorialize” salaries that were “previously approved” and Resolution 54 (http://www.ccsf.edu/BOT/2014/February/54.pdf ) authorized top administrative salaries to “be independently adjusted based on market variations.”
Constituents, in an effort to reclaim their legal right to public comment asked the STWEP, or a designee to hear their comments. When they arrived at the administration building they were locked out by police officers guarding the doors. Eventually, Jeffrey Hamilton, recently hired administrative assistant to the Chancellor, came outside and announced his willingness to receive written comments only.
Had she been given the chance, Alisa Messer, English instructor and president of the faculty union was prepared to read from a letter (http://www.aft2121.org/wp-content/uploads/Feb-27-2014.pdf) that included calling “on the District to immediately and retroactively rescind these unlawful payments of excessive salaries to top administrators and pay these administrators in accord with the established schedule.
“Such egregious violations would not likely have occurred if this District were operating with open Board meetings and under the watch of its publicly elected Board of Trustees. Restore the voice of San Francisco voters and bring democratic decision-making, transparency, and public accountability back to CCSF by restoring the duly elected Board of Trustees.
“Faculty made the difficult choice to ratify a contract with a significant cut in pay last fall at the same moment the College hid these unprecedented increases in administrator salaries.”
The CCSF delegation of 6 faculty and 7 students went to Washington, D.C. from December 11th – December 14th in order to present oral third party comments at the Department of Education hearing on the ACCJC.
This hearing was part of a process whereby the DOE periodically reviews the agencies that accredit institutions. The ACCJC was up for it’s regular 6-year review.
How did the CCSF Delegation spend their time in Washington?
Taking video or pictures was not allowed in the hearing. A transcript will be available in a month or so. In the meantime enjoy the links below to various aspects of the trip. This will be updated as more information is sent to the webmaster from the delegates.
Oral Comments of the Delegates
Read the oral comments of Martin, Wendy, Karen, Muriel, Sharon, Mike, Lalo, Loana, Itzel, and Shanell
We may not have obtained exactly what we wanted (delisting of the ACCJC by the DOE), however, if we had not gone, the outcome would have been far worse. We succeeded in having ACCJC’s continued recognition contingent on their coming into compliance within 12 months, and submit a compliance report that demonstrates the agency’s compliance with all issues in the staff analysis report.
Read the explanation from Carol Griffiths Executive Director of the Accreditation Group at DOE.
Read article from Inside Higher Ed
The AFT National Office set up several lobbying visits for us. Here is the list of visits that we conducted, not counting the one with Jackie Speier. You can see who went to that from this picture!
|Met With Staff||Representative|
|Martin Madrigal||Nicholas Hromalik||The Honorable Jared Huffman|
|Karen Saginor||Shawn Tiegs||The Honorable Michael M. Honda|
|Muiriel Parenteau||Brenna Barber||The Honorable Lois Capps|
|(AFT Jenn & Craig)||Priscila Hammett||The Honorable Judy Chu|
|Shanell Williams||Emily Burns||The Honorable John Garamendi|
|Alisa Messer||Katelynn Anderson||The Honorable Eric Swalwell|
|Jeff Freitas||Sara Nitz||The Honorable Karen Bass|
|(AFT Sarah)||Mavonne Garrity||The Honorable Alan Lowenthal|
|Julia Steinberger||The Honorable Mark Takano|
|Itzel Medina Calvo||Mariah Jones||The Honorable Barbara Lee|
|Tarik Farrar||Ben Gutman||The Honorable Zoe Lofgren|
|(AFT Tor & Alyssa)|
Our purpose was to inform our representatives as to what is happening with California Community Colleges and the ACCJC. We want them to work on behalf of a fair and transparent accreditation process. We told them that the first step is for them to reach out to the community colleges in their districts and get informed. We will be following up with more specifics at at a later date.
Muriel said the artist of the Lincoln Memorial was deaf. Karen, Wendy and Muriel verified that Lincoln’s hands are reposed in the shape of the letters A and L of American Sign Language.
The facial expressions are not typical of a war memorial.
The CCSF delegation of 6 faculty and 7 students leaves for Washington, D.C. this week to give oral third party comments at the Department of Education hearing, December 12th, on the ACCJC. We want to prevent the DOE from renewing ACCJC authority. Although we may not succeed in this objective, we will be building the public record about what is wrong with ACCJC.
We are happy to note that the Staff Report that was prepared for this hearing said that the DOE had received over 100 third-party written comments in connection with the ACCJC’s petition for recognition. “All of the 100 third-party were opposed to the activities of ACCJC.”
Our attorney, Dan Siegel (working pro-bono) filed a petition for a writ of mandate to the San Francisco Superior Court on Thursday morning, November 7, 2013.
He has been working in consultation with AFT 2121’s attorney as well as the SF City Attorney’s office. This lawsuit is complementary to their existing lawsuits against the ACCJC.
Watch the press conference: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=485Rp36bwuQ
Read the legal papers filed: 2013-11-07_SaveCCSFvsACCJC-PetitionWritMandate
Cartoon by Anthony Mata for Save CCSF Coalition
The PAEC is an important resource not just for CCSF but the San Francisco community who voted for it and which was shovel ready and fully funded when the Special Trustee nixed it. more information
Make checks to Save CCSF Coalition and send to:
Save CCSF Coalition
2132 Prince St.
Berkeley, CA 94705
Or you may donate online: http://www.gofundme.com/4841ns
City Attorney Dennis Herrera News Release
For Immediate Release: August 22, 2013 Contact: Matt Dorsey (415) 554‐4662
Herrera sues to block accreditors from shuttering City College of San Francisco
Dual actions allege conflicts of interest, retaliation by ACCJC; unlawful delegation of public duties by State Board of Governors to unaccountable private agency
SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 22, 2013)—City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed dual legal challenges involving the termination of City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, which, if successful, could enjoin private accreditors from shuttering California’s largest community college, and require the state governing board charged with evaluating college standards and eligibility for public funding to reassume its legal duties.
Herrera’s lawsuit against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC, alleges that the private agency unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards. The ACCJC has been a leading advocate to dramatically reshape the mission of California’s community colleges through more restrictive policies focusing on degree completion to the exclusion of additional vocational, remedial and non‐ credit offerings. The controversial political agenda—whose proponents include conservative advocacy organizations, for‐profit colleges and corporate student lenders—represents a significant departure from the abiding “open access” mission pursued by San Francisco’s Community College District since it was first established, and also repeatedly affirmed by the state legislature. Herrera’s civil action alleges that the commission acted to withdraw accreditation “in retaliation for City College having embraced and advocated a different vision for California’s community colleges than the ACCJC itself.” The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning concludes that the accrediting commission’s multiple conflicts of interest, improper evaluation process and politically motivated decision‐making constitute unfair and unlawful business practices under California law.
In a separate legal action also filed today, Herrera targeted improper actions by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the public agency charged by statute with overseeing the state’s 112 community colleges and 72 community college districts. The legal challenge and rulemaking petition alleges that the state board impermissibly delegated its statutory obligations to set standards and determine eligibility for public funding to a wholly unaccountable private entity in the ACCJC.
“Nothing about the actions I’ve filed today should distract or delay City College from doing everything in its power to solve the problems threatening its survival,” said Herrera. “But neither should these steps tempt accreditors to consider—for even one moment—retaliating against City College for legitimate challenges to their conduct and authority under the law.”
“The evidence is clear that the ACCJC ignored multiple conflicts of interest, flouted laws, and allowed its political advocacy to color public responsibilities it should frankly never have been given,” Herrera continued. “For this, the State Board of Governors is also to blame for unlawfully ceding its public duties to a private entity wholly beyond the reach of public accountability. Though I seek to enjoin the ACCJC from improperly terminating City College’s accreditation, the issues raised by both actions go far beyond any single college alone. This accreditation process has exposed bias, institutional flaws and illegalities in the oversight of the nation’s largest higher education system. It potentially affects 72 community college districts, 112 community colleges, and more than 2 million students in California. The issues are serious, and they merit rigorous scrutiny.”
Herrera’s complaint against the ACCJC outlines its extensive financial and political relationships with advocacy organizations and private foundations representing for‐profit colleges and powerful student lender interests, with which the ACCJC has in recent years shared a policy agenda to significantly narrow community colleges’ longstanding open access mission. The so‐called “student success” agenda prioritizes courses “geared toward helping students walk across a stage wearing a cap and gown on graduation day”—to the detriment of broader educational offerings that include remedial courses to benefit underserved and disadvantaged students, under‐ and unemployed adults, seniors and disabled students, new parents, immigrants learning English as a second language, and other non‐traditional learners.
Over a period of months preceding and during City College of San Francisco’s evaluation process for re‐accreditation, the college’s trustees, faculty and students increasingly found themselves at odds with the ACCJC’s aggressive advocacy to push California’s community colleges toward a junior college, degree‐focused model. Contentious disputes included arguments over recommendations by the “Student Success Task Force” and the “Seymour‐Campbell Student Success Act of 2012,” or S.B. 1426, which sought to implement several task force recommendations statewide. The controversial state legislation—strongly supported by ACCJC and opposed just as strongly by advocates from the City College of San Francisco community—would have limited low‐income students’ eligibility for fee‐waivers to those who identified a specific degree or certificate, and who didn’t exceed a “maximum unit cap.” Both provisions were later eliminated from the legislation, largely at the urging of open access advocates, including many from the City College community.
Herrera’s lawsuit goes on to detail retaliatory actions taken by ACCJC, beginning with its “show cause” sanction on July 2, 2012 through its unexpected decision less than a year later to terminate accreditation for the college of 85,000 students. Several bases for ACCJC’s negative findings suspiciously mirror policy conflicts between the ACCJC and the City College community, including criticisms that the “college has not demonstrated the will to reexamine the scope of the college’s mission” and that “there is no process to reduce the scope of programs and services.”
The complaint additionally offers evidence of ACCJC’s demonstrable double‐standard in evaluating City College as compared to its treatment of six other California colleges under identical “show cause” sanctions during the preceding five years. Though several of the sanctioned schools failed to adequately correct their inadequacies, none saw their accreditation terminated. Yet despite ACCJC’s own acknowledgement that City College made “significant progress” in addressing accreditors’ recommendations, the ACCJC voted in closed session in June to terminate City College of San Francisco’s accreditation effective July 31, 2014.
City College had never once been sanctioned previously, Herrera’s complaint contends, noting that the ACCJC’s retaliatory bias is also evident from the college’s educational success by multiple objective standards. City College boasts a remedial progress rate in English as a Second Language, or ESL, of 52.3 percent—more than double that for California community colleges statewide. Its completion rate of 55.6 percent exceeds the California community college average of 49.2 percent; and its 75.2 percent overall persistence rate (which gauges student matriculation over consecutive semesters) far outpaces the system‐wide average of 65.8 percent. Similarly, City College students transferring to the California State University system achieve a notably higher Cal State grade point average than the statewide average for community college transfers—3.08 for City College graduates as compared to 3.03 statewide.
The cases are: People of the State of California ex rel. Dennis Herrera v. Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, et al., San Francisco Superior Court No. 13‐533693, filed Aug. 22, 2013; and In re Legal Challenge and Petition for Rulemaking, Before the Board of Governors of California Community Colleges, filed Aug. 22, 2013.
SF City Attorney’s Lawsuit Against ACCJC And Challenge To Board Of Governors Of The California Community Colleges