Judge delays City College’s possible loss of accreditation until after trial

Courtesy of MCT.
Courtesy of MCT.

Madeline Collins/The Guardsman

San Francisco Superior Court Judge Curtis Karnow ruled on Jan. 2 that City College could not be closed until a trial determines whether the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges acted lawfully in its decision to revoke the school’s accreditation.

The judge’s ruling was a result of an injunction filed against the commission by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed Nov. 25.

“The City Attorney’s motion for a preliminary injunction is granted, but solely to the extent of enjoining the commission from terminating the college’s accreditation until further order of the court or final judgement in the City Attorney’s case,” the official decision read.

Karnow also wrote, “There is no question … of the harm that will be suffered if the commission follows through and terminates accreditation as of July 2014.”

The American Federation of Teachers also filed a similar injunction against the commission, but Karnow denied the request.

In a news release from the City Attorney’s office, Herrera said, “I’m grateful to the court for acknowledging what accreditors have so far refused to: that the educational aspirations of tens of thousands of City College students matter.”

California Community College Chancellor Brice Harris did not agree with the ruling.

In an open letter to Herrera he said, “Characterizations that the cases before the court are a last-ditch effort to save City College are inaccurate and will do additional damage to the college’s enrollment.”

Harris said in the letter that the school has improved under the leadership of Special Trustee Robert Agrella and that they have hired Arthur Q. Tyler as the new chancellor, and “the school has an accomplished educational leader at its helm who has pledged to stay with CCSF for the long haul.”

However, the effects of the commission’s actions have been evident since City College was first placed on the show cause sanction in 2012.

Enrollment has steadily decreased despite the school’s efforts to advertise that City College is open and accredited. Departments have been forced to cut sections and even classes altogether due to declining enrollment.

“Judge Karnow reached a wise and thorough decision that vindicates our contention that accreditors engaged in unfair and unlawful conduct,” Herrera said.

However, the injunction has bought City College some time and has lifted the spirits among students and faculty.

“I’m feeling good about the decision,” Shanell Williams, an activist with the Save City College Coalition told the San Francisco Chronicle. “Students have been feeling a lot of frustration, like there was this train speeding down the road, and we felt, like, how can we stop it?”

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