City College of San Francisco’s teachers have filed a complaint against the accrediting commission that placed sanctions on the school last year, accusing the commission of intimidation, a lack of due process and other violations.
The American Federation of Teachers Local 2121, which represents about 600 faculty members at CCSF, joined the California Federation of Teachers to file the third-party complaint on Tuesday against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
The commission last July placed CCSF on “show cause” status, citing more than a dozen problems with the school and requiring it to show improvement or possibly lose its accreditation when the commission issues a ruling on June 10.
Alisa Messer, AFT Local 2121 president, said, “Conflicts of interest, inconsistencies and violations of due process … clearly prevented the ACCJC from evaluating City College of San Francisco in a fair manner.”
Messer said it was “unprecedented to go from no sanctions to ‘show cause’” and said that student enrollment has dropped sharply because of the accreditation concerns and fears that the school could be forced to close.
“It’s thrown the college into turmoil,” she said.
The 280-page complaint, which was filed with both the ACCJC and the U.S. Department of Education, argues that there are no fair procedures for appealing sanctions from the commission and that the commission does not allow adequate time for schools to respond to the sanctions.
The complaint also states that commission president Barbara Beno placed her husband Peter Crabtree on the team that evaluated CCSF, among other conflicts of interest.
The complaint concludes by asking for CCSF to be taken off of “show cause” status, among other recommendations.
CFT president Joshua Pechthalt said the complaint is the only means to challenge the commission, saying it has a lack of oversight and transparency and intimidates community college districts around the state.
“There’s a climate of fear and intimidation throughout the community college system,” Pechthalt said. “People are afraid to speak up and raise concerns about the behavior of this accrediting commission because they could incur the wrath of the commission and lead to further sanctions.”
The Novato-based accrediting commission released a statement acknowledging receipt of the document on Tuesday but declined further comment on the specifics of the complaint.
“The commission will maintain its normal practice of reviewing third party comment and communicating about that comment directly with the affected member institution,” the commission said in the statement.
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