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California Auditor places blame on accreditor in handling CCSF crisis

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On Thursday, The California State Auditor essentially said “shame on you” to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) when the auditor released a caustic report on the accreditor’s handling of the City College of San Francisco (CCSF) accreditation crisis.

In another blow to the commission, the auditor’s office said the commission was inconsistent in its decision to terminate CCSF’s accreditation. With 112 state community colleges in the California Community College system, the auditor’s report found that City College of San Francisco, the largest campus in the system, was treated unfairly by the ACCJC as it was given less time to get back into compliance than were other colleges in the system. Additionally, the auditor criticized the commission for its lack of transparency.

The auditor gave recommendations to the California Community College system on how it could take a different approach that it felt would better serve the system. It recommended the college system consider finding a new accrediting body for its 112 community colleges. Through a spokesperson, the college system said a single accreditor is the best method, and that having multiple accreditors operating in California would “create a number of distracting challenges.”

Not happy with the state auditor’s findings, the ACCJC quickly responded that the state agency lacks the necessary authority and expertise to audit the commission. The accreditor fired back, “While the analysts attempted to be thorough, the lack of expertise in accreditation regulations and practice created difficulties.” So there.

This may be a slippery slope for CCSF. In January the U.S. Department of Education renewed the ACCJC’s recognition, which gives the accrediting agency power to act as gatekeepers for federal financial aid. Since only students attending institutions with accreditation can receive financial aid, the stakes are high for CCSF with ACCJC at the wheel.

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