Compton College’s Future Remains Clouded

Times Staff Writer

Compton Community College announced Monday that it lost a round in an accreditation battle that threatens its future, but officials said they would file a follow-up appeal that will keep open the doors of the troubled two-year school.

The college’s interim president, Jamillah Moore, disclosed Monday to her campus that an oversight organization has reaffirmed its June decision to strip the school of its accreditation due to financial and management irregularities.

But Moore said the college would file a formal appeal of the latest action by an accrediting arm of the Western Assn. of Schools and Colleges within 30 days, allowing the campus to continue operating. College officials said even if the next appeal fails, they will pursue additional challenges.


“We will continue to exercise every legal option available to us to protect and preserve Compton Community College while continuing to educate our students and serve our communities,” Moore said in a news release. “We are determined to overturn the commission’s decision,” she added, referring to the decision by the association’s Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges.

School officials pointed out that the community college continues to be accredited and that registration will begin for winter and spring session classes on Dec. 5.

It now enrolls between 4,000 and 4,500 students, after having lost about a third of its student body during its troubles over the past year, said Cheryl Fong, a spokeswoman for California Community Colleges Chancellor Marshall “Mark” Drummond.

Compton College has been under state control since May 2004.

The takeover followed an investigation by Drummond’s office amid concerns about the school’s accounting practices and its failure to provide a satisfactory audit. A separate state study found potentially illegal practices, including college officials possibly steering contracts and jobs to relatives.

The school also has been under federal and local investigations for possible corruption.

A former Compton College trustee last month pleaded guilty to fraudulently diverting more than $1 million in public funds to himself and his family members.

Ignacio Pena was accused of siphoning money from a dummy organization that enrolled members of a community soccer league in sham college courses.


In June, the accrediting commission sought to withdraw the college’s accreditation, but campus and state officials filed a preliminary appeal, saying more time was needed to turn around the school.

In a ruling released Monday, the accrediting commission said that the evidence supporting the June decision was substantial and credible. It added that changes brought to its attention “are not of sufficient magnitude to warrant a reversal of the June decision.”

Fong said the chancellor’s office was shocked by the latest accreditation setback. Still, she expressed hope that the college’s problems can be solved in time to preserve its accreditation. “While we’re undergoing all of these appeals, every day we have through this process will give us additional time to remedy or correct any areas of concern that the commission may have had,” Fong said. “So time works in our favor.”