Community college leaders call for new accrediting system

California Community college leaders voted Monday to establish a new system for evaluating the state's 113 community colleges, dealing a blow to the controversial panel that currently oversees accreditation.

The community college Board of Governors unanimously approved a resolution that calls on Chancellor Brice W. Harris to report back in March with details and a timeline for improving the accreditation process, including finding a new agency to conduct those reviews.

That could take years, though, and any changes would probably have to be approved by the U.S. Department of Education, officials said. The board met Monday at Mt. San Antonio College in Walnut.

The vote follows the release in August of a task force report that found that the current accreditor, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, has lost its credibility with faculty, staff, students and trustees and no longer serves the needs of the system.

The commission has been widely criticized for meting out a disproportionate number of sanctions on California colleges compared with accrediting agencies in other parts of the country.

Reaction boiled over when the Novato-based panel sought to strip accreditation from City College of San Francisco, which would have effectively shut down one of the largest community colleges in the state.

The agency subsequently gave the college more time to fix financial and management problems for which it was sanctioned.

Commission officials could not be reached for comment.

The peer-review panel has argued that it is seeking to uphold stringent standards that protect students and the public.

But the agency has recently sought to improve transparency and communications and insists that it is focusing more on working with colleges cooperatively to improve quality. 

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