San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera Thursday filed dual legal challenges involving the termination of City College of San Francisco's accreditation.
Last month, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges revoked City College's accreditation, effective July 2014. The college has appealed the ACCJC's decision, but the August 22 court filings by Herrera, if successful, could also keep the institution open.
In one of the lawsuits, Herrera alleges that the private ACCJC unlawfully allowed its advocacy and political bias to prejudice its evaluation of college accreditation standards. He said in the filing that because City College's policies foster a different vision for community colleges, the ACCJC retaliated by pulling the school's accreditation.
“The ACCJC has been a leading advocate to dramatically reshape the mission of California's community colleges through more restrictive policies focusing on degree completion to the exclusion of additional vocation, remedial, and non-credit offerings,” said a press release from Herrera's office.
The complaint filed in San Francisco Superior Court concludes that the accrediting commission's “multiple conflicts of interest, improper evaluation process, and politically motivated decision-making constitute unfair and unlawful business practices under California law,” Herrera's statement said.
Rafael Mandelman, an openly gay member of the college's board of trustees, applauded the lawsuit in a message on his Facebook page.
In a separate legal action also filed August 22, Herrera targeted improper actions by the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, the public agency charged by statute with overseeing the state's 112 community colleges and 72 community college districts. The legal challenge and rulemaking petition alleges that the state board impermissibly delegated its statutory obligations to set standards and determine eligibility for public funding to an unaccountable private entity in the ACCJC.
“Nothing about the actions I've filed today should distract or delay City College from doing everything in its power to solve the problems threatening its survival,” Herrera said in the statement. “But neither should these steps tempt accreditors to consider – even for one moment – retaliating against City College for legitimate challenges to their conduct and authority under the law.”
Representatives for the ACCJC did not immediately return a request for comment.