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CCSF sues accreditation agency

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CCSF sues accreditation agency

American Teacher Federation President, Alisa Messer, reviews paperwork with a collegue at City College of San Francisco

American Teacher Federation President, Alisa Messer, reviews paperwork with a collegue at City College of San Francisco

Photo by Avital Pelman/ The Skyline View

American Teacher Federation President, Alisa Messer, reviews paperwork with a collegue at City College of San Francisco

Photo by Avital Pelman/ The Skyline View

Photo by Avital Pelman/ The Skyline View

American Teacher Federation President, Alisa Messer, reviews paperwork with a collegue at City College of San Francisco

Michelle Kelly, TSV News Editor

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City College of San Francisco faculty is in the process of suing the accreditation entity responsible for the recent troubles their school has been facingThe American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and California Federation of Teachers (CFT) are representing City College teachers in a court battle against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC.)

ACCJC is the western region authority on accreditation for any two-year college and are currently facing additional legal action from local San Francisco attorney Dennis Herrera filed Aug. 22.

“Herrera’s lawsuit… alleges that the private agency [ACCJC] unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards,” a press release from Herrera stated.

ACCJC is a private institution that has the rights to purviewfrom the U.S. Department of Education. These rights were gained from the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008. This act allows accreditation agencies to hold an institution to its own mission statement.

As well as held responsible to a standard of quality of education based on the stated objectives in which a course is offered. In a press release from ACCJC, the agency stated they are “surprised” by Herrera’s lawsuit and see it interfering with the process regarding CCSF’s review.

AFT’s lawsuit, filed separately from the City Attorney’s, had its start in April of this year consisting of a complaint. ACCJC responded with a report stating that some of the issues raised would be more suited to a court of law and its complaint policy is reserved for the public.

ACCJC did not accept that the AFT was able to lend “third party comment” because it represents an educational institution. ACCJC moved the case forward on May 30 releasing a review of the allegations made by AFT and CFT. Their internal investigation allowed them to confirm that the treatment to CCSF’s accreditation was apprehended to same standards set to any other college they have reviewed.

The report also stated that no internal bias or conflict of interest impacted the accreditation process.

“Our Commissioners perform their responsibilities with utmost professionalism and integrity,” ACCJC Chair Sherrill Amador said according to the report made by ACCJC. “We take all complaints seriously and investigate them thoroughly.” The largest battle of this case is the 2006 report ACCJC presented CCSF. The evaluation had eight recommendations for improvement.

The failure of the college to correct these issues in the six years since the initial report is the cause for ACCJC to put them on show cause sanction in July of 2012.

“In 2012, when they [ACCJC] said they were putting us on show cause it was a lot like saying to us ‘prove to us why you deserve to continue to exist’,” Alisa Messer, President of the AFT said. “Not ‘here are the problems’ but [they took] more of a guilty until proven innocent approach.”

The two teacher unions involved, AFT and CFT, as well as individual faculty decided to take the action to court in the lawsuit filed Sept. 23.

“They [ACCJC] have looked back and decided to re-characterize something,” Messer said. “We have looked at the letter we got in 2006 from the accreditation agency and then we looked at another letter they sent out the same day to a different college that was put on sanction. You can see the difference in the language. It’s not like they didn’t know how to communicate.” Bob Bezemek, who has represented the AFT since 1979, cites corruption within ACCJC and a conflict of interest that impacted their judgment during the CCSF process.

“Education is a constitutional right in California since 1850,” Bezemek said. “It’s not a federal constitution right but a state constitution right and this accreditation of CCSF is going against the Californian constitutional right.”

This article has been replaced with it an newer version that fixes formatting issue. 9:00 P.M. 10/11/13

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CCSF sues accreditation agency