Judge blocks stripping largest California community college of accreditation

SAN FRANCISCO Thu Jan 2, 2014 11:24pm EST

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SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - California's largest community college won a reprieve on Thursday when a judge temporarily blocked a regulatory agency from stripping City College of San Francisco of its accreditation.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges planned to withdraw accreditation from the school next summer, citing a lack of financial accountability and other longstanding problems, none directly related to educational quality.

On Thursday, San Francisco Judge Curtis E.A. Karnow issued a preliminary injunction barring the commission from removing the college's accreditation until a trial is held on a lawsuit filed by City Attorney Dennis Herrera, who alleged that political bias and conflicts of interest unlawfully influenced the agency's decision.

Lost accreditation would trigger funding cuts that would shutter the school, San Francisco's only community college, with nine campuses, 60 academic degrees and 140 vocational programs, from nursing to culinary arts and aircraft mechanics. Nearly 80,000 students attend classes there.

Closing the college would be "catastrophic," Karnow wrote in a 56-page ruling.

"The impact on the teachers, faculty, and the city would be incalculable, in both senses of the term: The impact cannot be calculated, and it would be extreme," the judge wrote.

He plans to begin hearing Herrera's lawsuit as well as a similar suit brought by unions representing the college's 1,500 instructors before July. He expressed doubt, however, that the trial would conclude before July 31, the date the college was slated to lose its accreditation.

Karnow rejected a separate request for an injunction from the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers, saying that he did not expect the unions to win at trial.

The commission's offices are closed until next week and representatives did not immediately respond to a request for comment from Reuters.

The U.S. Department of Education authorizes the commission to evaluate 112 community colleges with more than 2 million California students every six years.

In 2012, commission members and administrators at the college came down on opposite sides of an ongoing political issue about the role of community colleges, and Herrera's lawsuit alleges that the commission acted to withdraw accreditation "in retaliation for City College having embraced and advocated a different vision."

(Reporting by Ronnie Cohen; Editing by Sharon Bernstein and Lisa Shumaker)

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Comments (4)
stevadore33 wrote:
Courts are overturning legislation and regulations. The first sentence of the U.S. Constitution states: All legislative Powers herein granted shall be vested in a Congress of the United States, which shall consist of a Senate and House of Representatives. That means that courts cannot legally make or overturn laws.

Jan 03, 2014 10:45am EST  --  Report as abuse
krispy805 wrote:
steve, or whatever;
The separation of Power into three branches of Federal Government was designed specifically for oversight issues. If the court cannot “throw out bad laws” then how are the people protected? The only power the supreme court has is to strike laws that impede the rights of the population, and prevent activities associated with such.

Jan 03, 2014 12:58pm EST  --  Report as abuse
Cranios wrote:
Krispy or whatever:
When you say “The only power the supreme court has is to strike laws that impede the rights of the population, and prevent activities associated with such” it must be done WITHIN THE CONSTRAINTS OF THE CONSTITUTION. If something isn’t forbidden in the Constitution, then the law stands. So depending on what you meant to say, I might agree, or disagree with you.

Jan 06, 2014 11:25am EST  --  Report as abuse
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