A private commission seeking to revoke the accreditation of San Francisco's community college must review whether the school has made sufficient progress in the last year to void its earlier decision, an appeals panel ruled Friday.
The ruling was in response to an appeal by City College of San Francisco, which argued that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges failed to follow proper procedures when it moved to pull the school's accreditation as of July 31.
The appeals panel found no merit to the claims, but said the commission can't "finalize the termination of CCSF's accreditation" before completing a new evaluation to determine if the institution now meets standards, based on work that's been done under new leadership to improve its financial stability and governance.
The five members of the appeals panel are educators chosen by the commission itself.
Both sides claimed victory in the long-running dispute.
"Upholding the process is the critical part, and that's what they did," commission spokesman David Hyams said. "Now the commission will review with its counsel how to go about doing this new assessment."
California community colleges systemwide Chancellor Brice Harris said the ruling was good news. In a recent briefing before the commission, Harris and other college leaders said the 80,000-student institution has resolved 95% of the issues at play.
"We are pleased that the appeals panel has set aside City College of San Francisco's termination of accreditation and ruled that the commission must now consider the tremendous progress the institution has made in the past year," Harris said in a statement.
On Wednesday, the Novato-based accrediting panel proposed a new policy to allow City College to apply to restore its accreditation and be given up to an additional two years to fully comply with standards.
It was unclear how the appeals ruling would affect that action, if it is approved.
In a separate action, a lawsuit filed by San Francisco's city attorney questioning the accrediting panel's political motives and procedures had put the July 31 deadline on hold, pending the outcome of a trial scheduled to start in October.