CCSF legal battle heats up 

click to enlarge CCSF
  • Mike Koozmin/ S.f. Examiner File photo
  • The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges wants CCSF to reapply for accreditation, which Chancellor Arthur Tyler has refused to do.
The legal battle between City College of San Francisco and the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges has taken an unusual twist, with federal laws now being called into question amid the potential loss of the college’s accreditation.

On Tuesday, Barbara Beno, the commission’s president, urged CCSF to consider seeking its accreditation anew by applying for “candidacy” status, and she said the commission doesn’t have the power to extend its July 31 deadline before revoking the college’s accreditation, despite what others have asserted.

Last June, the commission voted to strip CCSF of its accreditation this summer unless the college came into compliance with commission standards and eligibility requirements. The July 31 deadline, however, is now essentially moot due to an impending October trial between the City Attorney’s Office and the commission, which prompted a temporary injunction barring CCSF’s accreditation loss until the trial is complete.

Beno’s words echoed a statement released by commissioners last weekend in response to Mayor Ed Lee’s and California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris’ recent public pleas for the commission to give CCSF more time to meet accrediting requirements.

In their statement, commissioners said they are legally prohibited from allowing CCSF more time to make changes necessary to prevent its accreditation loss.

Congress and the U.S. Department of Education “have specified that an accrediting body allow no more than two years for a substandard college to come into compliance or lose its accreditation,” according to the commission.

But the City Attorney’s Office said Tuesday the commission does have the authority to extend the deadline.

“The law allows them to extend the period for achieving compliance, right there in black and white,” said Gabriel Zitrin, a spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office, citing the Code of Federal Regulations.

According to the code, “If the institution or program does not bring itself into compliance within the specified period, the agency must take immediate adverse action unless the agency, for good cause, extends the period for achieving compliance.”

Beno, however, countered that the commission would have had to declare that option in advance of voting to remove CCSF’s accreditation.

That’s why the commission is urging CCSF to apply for candidacy status, a move Chancellor Arthur Tyler is not willing to make. Candidacy would require CCSF to withdraw its current accreditation.

“Let me be clear: We are not considering withdrawing our accreditation,” Tyler wrote in a letter to the CCSF community Monday.

But Beno said candidacy status would give the college an additional two to four years for it to complete its recovery and meet accreditation requirements.

“Nobody wants to see the college close and stop serving students,” Beno said. “The commission is actively looking for and has found a way for the college to stay open. We’re hopeful it’s the right solution.”

About The Author

Laura Dudnick

Laura Dudnick, a Bay Area native, covers education and planning for The San Francisco Examiner. She previously worked as a senior local editor for, and as the San Mateo County bureau reporter and weekend editor for Bay City News Service.
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