CFT Acts to Block Threatened Closure of City College of San Francisco

News Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 25, 2013

Injunction to Stop ACCJC Filed in San Francisco Superior Court

San Francisco — The California Federation of Teachers (CFT) today filed a motion for a preliminary injunction in S.F. Superior Court to keep City College of San Francisco (CCSF) open and protect access to higher education for the vulnerable student population that relies on its programs.
“Because of the reckless and illegal actions of the ACCJC, community college students in San Francisco—returning veterans, low income students, immigrants and others who can’t afford private colleges—are facing the insecurity and instability of not knowing how they will continue their education next year. This is unacceptable by any reasonable measure and must stop at once,” said Joshua Pechthalt, President of the CFT. “City College must remain open.”
If granted, the injunction would block the unjustified sanction levied by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to disaccredit CCSF and force the shutdown of the college effective July 31, 2014.
City College has one of the highest transfer rates of any community college in the state, sending thousands of students each year on to four year institutions to pursue their dreams as well as preparing many for vital careers. The excellence of the college’s academic programs is not in dispute. Rather, the ACCJC seeks to close the school for political payback and issues with administration. Since the announcement of the sanction last year, CCSF has seen a precipitous drop in enrollment losing well over 10% of its students and in excess of $20 million in state funding.
AFT Local 2121 president Alisa Messer, representing faculty at CCSF, said: “There is no room in other colleges in the region. These students cannot afford private colleges or the debt that comes with them. The ACCJC is destroying the educational opportunities built by generations of San Franciscans. Hard working single mothers and returning war veterans shouldn’t be denied the future they’ve earned and have a right to expect.”
For months now, ACCJC has thumbed its nose at the fundamental principles of transparency and accountability. The Commission refuses to comply with its own policies, and routinely ignores federal regulations and California law. It actively prevents the public’s access to key information by authorizing the shredding of documents, denying access to public meetings and refusing to comply with Public Records Act requests.
In September the CFT filed a lawsuit demonstrating that the ACCJC has engaged in material misrepresentations about the actions of community colleges (including CCSF); serious conflicts of interest; the adoption of standards that do not fairly measure academic quality and are not widely accepted by other similar accrediting bodies; the evaluation of colleges based on underground, unwritten, unpublished and unclear criteria; and the failure to provide clear and understandable indications of deficiencies.
Shanell Williams, CCSF Student Trustee, said, “The consequence of ACCJC’s actions is to harm the educational opportunities and future earnings of the disabled, older adults, young students of color, recent immigrants studying English, returned Iraq and Afghanistan war veterans, recent high school graduates, foster children, even homeless students.”
CCSF is home to over 80,000 students, 2,500 hard working and dedicated faculty members and staff. It contributes hundreds of millions of dollars to San Francisco’s economic activity. It is highly regarded for 140 occupational programs that train the City’s workforce, 60 academic departments that offer transfer opportunities to thousands, and an English as Second Language program that instructs 20,000 immigrants each year. Its highly trained faculty and staff have evolved CCSF into a preeminent college. Numerous educational metrics show CCSF is in rare company academically.