Feds: Group pulling CCSF accreditation didn't follow rules

August 14, 2013 5:47:01 PM PDT
There may be some relief coming for City College of San Francisco because the same accrediting commission that investigated City College is now being reprimanded by the Department of Education. In a nutshell, the Department of Education says the committee did not follow regulations. It is merely a slap on the wrist, for now, but that could change.

The Department of Education says it was wrong for the accrediting commission to allow Peter Crabtree to be part of the visiting team which evaluated and investigated City College. Crabtree is married to Barbara Beno, the chief executive officer of that commission.

"Absolutely a big no-no," says Alisa Messer with the California Federation of Teachers. "It is at the very least an appearance of a conflict of interest. I would think that if there is supposed to be a separation between the visiting team and the commission itself, then probably pillow talk counts as a possible conflict of interest."

The California Federation of Teachers is the union that complained to the Department of Education. The report also found that of the 16 members on that visiting team only one was a faculty member. The Department of Education says there should have been more. But in a letter, the accrediting commission claims the Department of Education is wrong. There were three faculty members on that team and will prove it.

The Department of Education also found that when City College received its accreditation in 2006, there was no mention of deficiencies. The teachers' union says had the accrediting commission done so, the college would have probably addressed them. Still, the commission promised it will make the necessary policy changes to address the department's concerns.

Meanwhile, the teachers' union says the commission's ruling should be overturned -- including its finding that the college's accreditation be revoked. "We're calling for an immediate reversal. We think that the ACCJC needs to do a do-over," Messer said.

But no one knows what this will mean for the future of City College. "Complying with what the Department of Education wants them to do doesn't necessarily require them to reverse their decision with regard to City College," says Paul Feist at the California Community Colleges Chancellor's Office.

Wednesday, was the first day of school at City College. "I have confidence the school will stay open," one student told ABC7 News.

"We're still accredited as of right now and obviously, everybody's still going to school, so yeah, I completely have faith everything is going to be OK," student Naila Washington told ABC7 News.

Currently, enrollment at City College is down by more than 10 percent. It has until July 2014 to fix all the problems.


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