A group of community college chancellors and presidents is urging a private panel to maintain accreditation for City College of San Francisco while it works to improve its fiscal health and fix other problems.
The college leaders sent a letter late Monday to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges asking it to extend accreditation for 12 to 18 months beyond the July 31 deadline set by the panel.
Thirty-five educators signed the letter, which is part of a last-ditch statewide effort organized by Cindy Miles, chancellor of the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District in El Cajon and Constance M. Carroll, chancellor of the San Diego Community College District.
The number of supporters grew to 50 by Tuesday, including chancellors and presidents from districts in Los Angeles, Pasadena, San Jose, Santa Monica, Fullerton and Sacramento.
Miles and Carroll said they are soliciting further support from leaders of the state's 112 community colleges and 72 college districts and would include those signatures in a final letter to the commission on June 16.
"We as CEO's want to be respectful but we also want to convey a very important point and it's a point about fairness," Carroll said in an interview Tuesday. "There is an urgency because of the fact that if nothing happens by July 31, the state's largest single college, with some 80,000 students, will cease to exist as an accredited institution, which means losing eligibility to receive state or federal funds, the loss of transferability of credits to four-year institutions and San Francisco losing its only workforce training and transfer institution. The consequences would be huge and entirely negative."
A spokesman for the commission, David Hyams, said the panel "understands the sentiments expressed in the letter, but has nothing new to report."
The panel is scheduled to announce a new policy Wednesday on revoking accreditation but has provided no details on whether it will affect the status of City College.
The campaign by the college leaders is significant because it represents the colleges that are members of the accrediting panel. Faculty and administrators from those colleges make up the teams that evaluate sister schools to ensure they meet accrediting standards.
If the panel loses the support and confidence of the colleges, its own recognition by the federal government could be put in jeopardy.
The Novato-based accrediting commission and supporters of the San Francisco two-year college have been locked in battle since the panel moved last year to revoke accreditation, citing serious fiscal, governance and other deficiencies.
Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris and Arthur Q. Tyler, chancellor of City College contend that the institution, under new leadership, has addressed 95% of the deficiencies and should be given more time to meet standards.
The accrediting panel is under scrutiny itself and its sanction against City College is on hold pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by San Francisco's city attorney.
Follow Carla Rivera on Twitter: @CarlaRiveraLat