Hearing to decide fate of SF City College underway

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- The long-awaited trial that could decide City College of San Francisco's future is now underway. The San Francisco City Attorney's office took legal action to stop a commission which wants to strip City College of its accreditation.

Supporters of City College of San Francisco protested outside the courthouse. It was the first day of the hearing to determine whether the accreditation process was unfair and unlawful.

The lawsuit was brought forward by the San Francisco City Attorney's office.

"They deserve an opportunity to be heard, to know what improvements to make and the process should not be used as a political hammer over the school's head," Dennis Herrera said.

It is now known that one of the accrediting team members was married to the president of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Barbara Beno.

Alisa Messer, former president of the American Federation of Teachers was the first to testify.

"At the time we didn't know they were connected to each other, didn't know they were married and these teams are supposed to be disconnected, they aren't supposed to be involved in pillow talk or any other kind of talk," Messer said.

Beno's husband was from another Bay Area community college, which according to Messer, could have benefited from City College closing.

City College has never violated any laws, but has admitted it suffered from poor financial management and inadequate governance.

The commission argued it warned the college numerous times about these problems.

If the college loses its accreditation, it will no longer be eligible for federal financial aid and would likely shut down.

"It would be a disaster," attorney Bob Bezemek said. "According to the San Francisco Board of Supervisor's Budget Analyst, it would cost the city in revenue about $300 million a year."

The hearing is supposed to continue for five days.
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