The battle to save San Francisco's community college may finally be resolved as a private panel on Wednesday announced new rules that could allow the troubled institution to retain accreditation.
Under the proposed policy, the City College of San Francisco would be able to apply to restore its accreditation, make a case that it has made substantial improvements and, after an evaluation, be allowed up to an additional two years to fully comply with standards, according to a statement from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.
FOR THE RECORD
June 12, 12:24 p.m.: An earlier version of this post stated that a December review by federal officials identified a number of problems at the City College of San Francisco campus. The review found problems at the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which is responsible for accrediting the college.
The Novato-based panel has come under intense pressure from community leaders, college administrators, faculty, students and lawmakers to grant the 80,000-student school a reprieve from a July 31 deadline.
Officials at City College, the state's largest single education institution, said they were still reviewing the proposed policy change.
The new action is poised to end a year of acrimony that saw the college's enrollment plummet, as students feared the institution would lose federal and state funding and, ultimately, close.
The commission, meanwhile, argued that it must move forward with the termination, citing federal requirements that colleges be given no more than two years to comply with standards or lose accreditation. This came despite an opinion from a senior education official concluding that it had authority to extend accreditation for good cause.
The panel moved last year to revoke accreditation as of July, citing long-running financial and governance problems, including failing to track the academic progress of many students, not providing sufficient student support services and failing to maintain adequate reserves.
The commission, part of the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges, is one of seven private regional accrediting groups recognized by the U.S. Department of Education. The California commission is made up of college faculty, administrators and members of the public.
The July termination was on hold, pending the outcome of a lawsuit filed by San Francisco's city attorney questioning the panel's political motives and procedures. The trial is scheduled to start in October.
And in a December review, federal officials identified a number of problems at the commission, which need to be corrected within a year. These include ensuring that its standards and policies are widely accepted, demonstrating that faculty are represented on its evaluation teams, and providing schools with more clearly written reports on whether they meet standards.