The commission that voted to strip City College of San Francisco of its accreditation last summer is defending its decision to exceed an evaluation team's recommendation in 2012 to only place the school on probation, according to recently revealed court documents.
It remains unclear what impact -- if any -- the disclosure of the previously confidential information could have on the still open and accredited CCSF.
The document was filed in San Francisco Superior Court on Aug. 11 by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges as part of a lawsuit from the City Attorney's Office alleging that the commission treated CCSF unfairly in its accreditation review process. It was first reported by the Los Angeles Times on Friday.
According to the document, the evaluation team that assessed CCSF in 2012 recommended that the accrediting commission impose probation. The commission, however, subsequently voted in closed session to place CCSF on show-cause status prior to revoking its accreditation a year later.
Such information had been redacted in previous court documents and the ACCJC said Monday the evaluation team's recommendation was intended to be confidential. Additionally, the commission said it considered the evaluation team's suggestion but was not legally obligated to follow it.
"Federal law says the commission makes the decision, not the team," ACCJC President Barbara Beno told The San Francisco Examiner. "The commission is under no obligation to follow that team recommendation."
But Rafael Mandelman, elected to CCSF's board of trustees in 2012, said placing the school on show-cause status instead of probation cast a shadow of doubt over the future of CCSF.
"The level of sanction that they chose to impose then actually has mattered quite a lot for City College," Mandelman said. "Probation probably wouldn't have had the same negative consequences in terms of enrollment and funding and general unease and doubt about whether City College would survive."
The information likely won't affect CCSF today, though, as it prepares to be evaluated for restoration status, said Paul Feist, a spokesman for the state Chancellor's Office.
"It doesn't really change things for the college at this point in terms of its accreditation, and where it is in the process of applying for restoration," Feist said.
The commission will decide whether to grant restoration status to CCSF no later than January. CCSF would remain accredited under the status.
The lawsuit between The City and commission is expected to go to trial in October. A judge had previously issued an injunction blocking ACCJC from revoking CCSF's accreditation until the trial's conclusion.
Losing accreditation would effectively force CCSF to close.