On Friday, Sept. 6, the California Federations of Teachers and AFT 2121 filed a request with the U.S. Department of Education (COE) seeking to “delist” the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) as the agency overseeing educational standards and quality for community colleges in California.
This request, submitted as a “Third Party Comment” to the DOE, delineated a growing body of evidence that the ACCJC has failed to follow its own policies, violated federal regulations, engaged in conflicts of interest, and failed to perform the duties required of an accreditation agency.
We propose not only to delist the ACCJC, but also the reversal of the Commission’s illegitimate decision to disaccredit City College of San Francisco as of July 2014.
Numerous other organizations and individuals also submitted critical Third Party comments, raising questions about the ACCJC’s ability to support quality educational standards both in San Francisco and throughout the state. During its last review, as far as we are able to determine, there was only one Third Party Comment submitted regarding ACCJC’s request for reauthorization, and it was in support of the Accrediting Commission. This round, there can be no doubt that CCSF and California have legitimate and serious doubts about the ACCJC’s operations.
In recent weeks, several new developments have lent weight to CFT’s original third party comment, filed at the end of April, seeking specifically to reverse the ACCJC decision to sanction against City College of San Francisco due to irregularities in that action, and to restore legitimate oversight of California community colleges. These include:
- A letter from the DOE to ACCJC president Barbara Beno upholding our union’s complaints, and ordering the Commission to remedy its errors or face delisting;
- The California Joint Legislative Audit Committee will conduct an audit of ACCJC activities and finances, over the objections of the ACCJC, based on a request by State Senators Jim Beall and Jim Nielsen;
- Legal action by San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera, claiming, among other things, that the ACCJC overstepped its authority in threatening to pull the accreditation of CCSF, and calling for the reversal of that action.
What happens next in this process?
The Department of Education takes these comments and complaints seriously. DOE staff is expected to compile them as part of a recommendation to the Undersecretary of Education and the National Advisory Committee on Institutional Quality and Integrity (NACIQI). This information is also provided to the ACCJC, which has the option to file a response in late October or November. The NACIQI will meet in the D.C. area in mid-December to consider the recommendation, ACCJC’s application, the submitted comments and also any oral comments at a public meeting. After this, they vote as to their recommendation. The DOE staff recommendation and the NACIQI recommendation then go to the Undersecretary of Education for an initial decision on ACCJC’s authorization. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan makes the final decision.