Union files comprehensive comment and complaint with ACCJC contesting “Show Cause” sanction

AFT 2121 and the California Federation of Teachers have filed a third-party comment and complaint with the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). Under the direction of AFT/CFT attorney Bob Bezemek, this document asks that the “Show Cause” sanction be removed because the Commission violated federal and state laws and its own policies in imposing the sanction on City College of San Francisco. Because CCSF never should have been placed on show cause in the first place, it was legally essential to file this 300-page complaint now, before the May 1st deadline and before the next review was completed by ACCJC. This step is imperative at this time in exhausting administrative remedies and maintaining our right to question ACCJC’s sanction and its damaging impact on the College and our members.

ACCJC’s censure of CCSF, like its actions with respect to many other California community colleges, is riddled with conflicts of interest, inconsistencies, and violation of due process that prevented ACCJC from evaluating CCSF in a fair and impartial manner. For these reasons, our statewide union leadership, including CFT President Josh Pechthalt, joined five present and past AFT 2121 presidents in signing the third-party comment and complaint.

The Union’s step in filing this complaint may make some of us anxious or worried, but it is a considered decision and the only action available to us under the Commission’s own process. For this reason, it is both timely and necessar to protect our rights.

Some highlights from the complaint include:

  • Prior to the “show cause” sanction, CCSF had never been placed on any of the sanctions available to ACCJC, even the lesser sanctions of Warning or Probation.
  • ACCJC violated its own policies and procedures in placing CCSF on Show Cause. In 2006, the visiting team validated that the college “meets the eligibility requirements” and “complies with the standards of accreditation,” as required by the Commission. While they made recommendations for improvement, they did not identify any “deficiencies,” which are the only bases for sanction.
  • ACCJC is not the independent peer review body it purports to be. Its review teams, including the teams sent to CCSF, are stacked with college managers and administrators and too few faculty.
  • By its actions in demanding that CCSF pre-fund retirement health benefits and lower faculty wages and benefits, ACCJC intrudes into collective bargaining in violation of our rights under the EERA.

Filing this document does not change the fact that our College is under sanction, struggling to address ACCJC’s recommendations. Or that we are working hard to improve our college. AFT 2121 remains at the bargaining table, negotiating in good faith, despite the onslaught of unreasonable demands from the District and the upside-down priorities in the 2013-14 Tentative CCSF Budget. We continue to try to find ways to address the administration’s concerns without sacrificing long-held principles that uphold the quality of education and the very real needs of our members. On Monday, we brought to the District a comprehensive counter-proposal that moves closer to their concerns and demands.

Get informed. The full complaint is available on the CFT website as of mid-morning on May 1st, 2013. AFT 2121 will make more information available to members and the community in the next days.

More than ever, our unity in the face of District attacks on our contract is essential. We must speak the truth about the overreach of an accrediting commission that in San Francisco and elsewhere has acted in contradiction with its mission, harming the interests of students, faculty, staff, and the broader community. We must speak out about the silencing of dissent and the loss of transparency, varied voices, and respect at our College. We call on all faculty to rally in defense of our rights and in defense of our City College. The future of quality education at CCSF is at stake.

Posted in Accreditation

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