CCSF students, teachers pack court hearing over accreditation

City College of San Francisco teachers and students packed superior court on Thursday to watch the battle for the school's accreditation.
December 26, 2013 8:06:02 PM PST
City College of San Francisco teachers and students packed into superior court on Thursday. They watched legal arguments in two lawsuits aimed at keeping the school from closing.

Plaintiffs in this lawsuit say a decision by a private agency to strip City College's accreditation next July is a violation of students' rights to access public education. At the end of the day-long hearing, the judge made no decision.

Members of the California Teacher's Federation showed up in force before the hearing. The teachers union and the city of San Francisco are suing is to keep CCSF from closing.

"The timing is critical because semester starts in a few weeks and if this disaccreditation continues, more students are going to leave," said Joshua Pechthalt California Teacher's Federation.

The school's accreditation was yanked effective July 2014. That decision came from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC, which is a private commission that rates community and junior colleges.

Plaintiffs want the judge to hold a trial, forcing the ACCJC to re-examine City College's credentials. They also want the judge to issue an injunction until the end of that trial. That would prevent the commission from pulling the school's accreditation if the trial is not completed before next July.

"The injunction is important right now and the reason it's important is that people are bailing out. And they know that there's a disaccreditation date in 2014. And injunction will give them hope," said Robert Bezemek, a teachers anion attorney.

School leaders say CCSF is hemorrhaging students. Enrollment has dropped by 30-percent since the commission's decision. Without accreditation, students can't get financial aid and their credits and degrees will be useless. The ACCJC says these lawsuits should be dismissed.

"Neither the City Attorney nor the teacher's union, in this case have had the right to ask for this relief that they're asking for," said Laurence Kessenick, from ACCJC's legal counsel.

Some students say they're hoping for a decision before enrollment closes on January 8th.

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