Coast district reviews draft reports

The Coast Community College District board is continuing to take steps to maintain the accreditation of its three colleges.

Trustees on Wednesday reviewed accreditation-related reports drafted by administrators at Orange Coast College in Costa Mesa, Golden West in Huntington Beach and Coastline, which has a campus in Newport Beach and several other locations.

Every six years, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) evaluates colleges' compliance with regulations that govern what they must do to be accredited — the stamp of educational quality that allows students to transfer to four-year universities. Accreditation also affects the type of funding community colleges are eligible to receive.

ACCJC visited the district's three colleges in the spring and issued a warning to the district in July.

OCC and Coastline have addressed each of the deficiencies the commission identified and will submit their reports to ACCJC in March. Golden West is still completing a long-range financial plan, as directed by the accreditation commission, according to the reports.

While the plan won't be completed until May, that should not affect the college's accreditation, said Andreea Serban, vice chancellor of educational services and technology.

In response to their visit at OCC, evaluators wrote in the July letter that there should be consistent contact between instructors and students taking online classes and that faculty evaluations should include how effective employees are at producing results in student learning.

OCC's follow-up report states that instructors will be required to meet with students and initiate discussions several times during the class.

The faculty union — Coast Federation of Educators — and the district also agreed to add a stipulation in their employment agreements that instructors will be evaluated partially based on how well they produce results in student learning, Serban said.

The report's other recommendations focused mostly on administration and governance deficiencies, which the board has been working to correct for several months, said Trustee Lorraine Prinksy

"Everyone pitched in, and it was a huge amount to get done in a short time, but we did it," she said.

Specifically, board members have has updated outdated policies and vowed to delegate more authority to the chancellor to avoid overlapping in their duties.

Trustee Jerry Patterson has openly expressed his concern with the process in public meetings and in a letter that he sent to the Department of Education in August requesting an investigation into ACCJC's decision to issue the warnings.

Patterson continued to blast the commission during Wednesday's meeting.

"The ACCJC hasn't been focusing on students and curriculums as they should," he said. "Only one recommendation dealt with students, all the rest dealt with governance issues. I think they've warped the whole goal of what accreditation is about."

The board will formally adopt the three colleges' reports during its Feb. 19 meeting, which will allow it to meet the March deadline to submit them to ACCJC.

After ACCJC receives the reports, they will conduct unannounced site visits at each college to ensure that requirements are being met. The college's warning status won't be removed until June or July, Prinsky said.

"We're just hoping that happens," she said. "I think we've done a good job."

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