A key decision point is fast approaching for the college administration. The District must decide to stand up to defend the college. The faculty are united that the District must urge the City Attorney to go to Judge Karnow to make sure that the ACCJC obeys the law.
We thought that decision point was going to be Thursday night at the Board meeting. But instead there was a bizarre conversation. There was an item on the agenda to discuss the evidence provided by the ACCJC in their recent report to the college that was ordered by Judge Karnow. But every time Board members started to speak to ask questions about what the best way to proceed was for the college, Board President Rafael Mandelman kept interjecting that some of these items were discussed in closed session and therefore should not discussed openly. What made it more confusing was that many of the same items have already been discussed among interested parties at a variety of meetings that were not in closed sessions. So what exactly could be discussed or not discussed nobody knew for sure.
What was clear is that there needs to be an open discussion about what is best for the college. What is also clear is that what is best for the college is for the ACCJC to have to obey the law, just like everyone else.
It has been recognized by numerous constituencies of the College, and many others, that the ACCJC did not do what Judge Karnow ordered. The new “report” fails to clearly identify and explain the new 11 deficiencies, and it does not clearly identify the “facts” which support the new deficiencies. Instead, it offers a confusing and incomplete mix of comments from the two prior reports, and nebulous conclusions.
Because of the lack of clarity and the absence of evidence required by Judge Karnow this ACCJC report creates problems for the college.
Here are three reasons why the College should actively encourage the City Attorney to make sure the ACCJC follows the injunction:
1. Restoration Status: While the new report is ordered for purposes of reconsideration, if reconsideration does not change the College’s accreditation that means CCSF’s compliance with the report will be judged as part of Restoration Status. If the College does not do what ACCJC expects for Restoration Status, it will fail and be disaccredited, without review or appeal.
The ACCJC Report does not identify most aspects of CCSF’s “failures” on the 11 standards. CCSF will, without more information, have to guess what is awry. Worse, ACCJC can in 2016-2017 assert certain things should have been done, items CCSF will not have gleaned from the nebulous report. Thus, to assure CCSF does not fail on Restoration Status, more information must be provided.
2. CCSF cannot just “protest” the ACCJC’s latest failure by writing in its Reconsideration report to the ACCJC. Note that CCSF cannot ask the Court to enforce the injunction. Only the City Attorney has standing to do this. The college must “exhaust” its possible remedies. The only way to avoid a “failure to exhaust” argument is for the College’s surrogate to ask the Judge to enforce the injunction. We think it is probable that such an effort will insulate the College from a “failure to exhaust” argument, should it be disaccredited in 2017, and sue. Such an effort by the CIty Attorney would arguably moot any claim by ACCJC that CCSF lost its right to sue over lack of notice about things ACCJC identifies in the 2016-2017 report and decision that it must make.
3. Letting the ACCJC know that they can not ignore the law puts the ACCJC on notice that the College is not going to let itself be treated unfairly and illegally. The ACCJC has brazenly violated its own clear policies, feeling it is above the law.
Again, the District needs to defend the college by actively urging the City Attorney to ask Judge Karnow to enforce the injunction that the ACCJC has chosen to ignore.