SAN FRANCISCO (Aug. 22, 2013) — City Attorney Dennis Herrera today filed dual legal challenges involving the termination of City College of San Francisco’s accreditation, which, if successful, could enjoin private accreditors from shuttering California’s largest community college, and require the state governing board charged with evaluating college standards and eligibility for public funding to reassume its legal duties.
Herrera’s lawsuit against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, or ACCJC, alleges that the private agency unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards. The ACCJC has been a leading advocate to dramatically reshape the mission of California’s community colleges through more restrictive policies focusing on degree completion to the exclusion of additional vocational, remedial and non-credit offerings. The controversial political agenda — whose proponents include conservative advocacy organizations, for-profit colleges and corporate student lenders — represents a significant departure from the abiding “open access” mission pursued by San Francisco’s Community College District since it was first established, and also repeatedly affirmed by the state legislature. Herrera’s civil action alleges that the commission acted to withdraw accreditation “in retaliation for City College having embraced and advocated a different vision for California’s community colleges than the ACCJC itself.” The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court this morning concludes that the accrediting commission’s multiple conflicts of interest, improper evaluation process and politically motivated decision-making constitute unfair and unlawful business practices under California law.
In a separate legal action also filed today, Herrera targeted improper actions by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the public agency charged by statute with overseeing the state’s 112 community colleges and 72 community college districts. The legal challenge and rulemaking petition alleges that the state board impermissibly delegated its statutory obligations to set standards and determine eligibility for public funding to a wholly unaccountable private entity in the ACCJC.