FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Wednesday, November 6, 2013
Accrediting Commission’s Attempt to Stall by Moving to Federal Court Denied Without Hearing
San Francisco—Federal District Court judge Susan Illston ruled Monday that a lawsuit filed by the San Francisco City Attorney’s office to prevent the closure of San Francisco City College and address issues with its accreditation process should remain in San Francisco Superior Court rather than being moved to Federal jurisdiction.
In August, San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed the suit against the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) charging among other things that "the private agency unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards," and that the ACCJC is "a wholly unaccountable private entity."
The ACCJC recently responded to the lawsuit by petitioning to have the case moved to Federal Court. A hearing was scheduled for November 8, but Judge Illston issued a ruling on November 4 granting the City Attorney’s motion to remand the case against ACCJC back to the San Francisco Superior Court, concluding that no hearing was needed.
“This lawsuit is an urgent matter to protect access to higher education for City College’s 85,000 students. It is egregious that the ACCJC and its president, Barbara Beno would try to stall when so much is at stake for so many,” said California Federation of Teachers president Joshua Pechthalt. “Because of their reckless actions, community college students in San Francisco are facing the insecurity and instability of not knowing how they will continue their education next year. That’s not acceptable. Community colleges are the pathway to achievement for millions of Californians and it’s vital we protect them from these rogue bureaucrats.”
In its ruling, the court decisively dismissed the ACCJC’s arguments as being without merit. To the ACCJC’s claim that the United States Congress intended for such lawsuits against an accreditor to be filed in Federal court, Judge Illston pointed out that if Congress had so intended, it “could have said so.” As to ACCJC’s argument that the case alleged only violations of Federal law, the court pointed out that the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected this argument 19 years ago. Instead, the Court cited multiple precedents that supported the City Attorney’s position.