OCC has some work to do

Orange Coast College was told this month that it must rework some of its governance and educational practices or risk losing its accreditation.

A 57-page report from the college's accrediting body said OCC is in line with the vast majority of requirements, but seven deficiencies drew warnings.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges notified OCC about the report's findings in a July 3 letter.

Every six years, the organization evaluates colleges' compliance with a set of regulations governing what they must do to receive accreditation — a stamp of educational quality.

In March, an evaluation team visited OCC and its two sister colleges operated by the Coast Community College District — Coast Community College in Westminster and Golden West College in Huntington Beach.

Golden West and Coast also received warnings for deficiencies.

An OCC official said a "warning" is the least serious infraction colleges can receive after an accreditation visit.

OCC must submit a report by March detailing fixes to the problems. Probation or other consequences wouldn't take affect until March 2015.

"Hopefully, we'll have most of the things taken care of by the end of fall semester," said OCC spokesman Doug Bennett.

Evaluators wrote that there should be consistent and substantive contact between instructors and students taking online classes, and faculty evaluations should include how effective employees are at producing results in student learning.

There's no evidence that faculty are currently evaluated on how well their students meet desired outcomes, according to the report.

Including that benchmark in an employee evaluation is something the district will have to negotiate with the faculty union, Bennett said.

Like many of the required fixes, those negotiations will take place at the district level, Bennett said, because instructors share a contract across all three colleges operated by the Coast Community College District.

The report's other recommendations focused mostly on administration and governance deficiencies.

"I'm confident that we will take steps quickly to address any issues," said Martha Parham, the district's spokeswoman.

The board of trustees' accreditation committee will meet July 30 to begin working on solutions.

An eight-page section about the district's administrative organization often references the board and its relationship to employees. The report points out where the district's five-member board and the chancellor may overlap or clash in their duties.

For instance, four employees who report directly to the board of trustees may violate the policy of delegating authority to the chancellor to operate the district since the board only acts to set policy, according to the report.

At one point, the report says Coast's governing body doesn't seem to be following its own policies.

Rules about keeping meeting minutes, evaluating the chancellor, placing items on the agenda, identifying conflicts of interest and more are either out of date or not reflected in the board's current practices, according to the document.

"As such, it is noted that the governing board does not consistently act in a manner consistent with its policies and bylaws," the report stated.

Parham said the district was aware of the problem and already working to review any outdated procedures.

"We're on a plan to get all those squared away," she said. "We just didn't show enough progress at the time of the accreditation visit."

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