City College overseers bar most speakers from meeting

Students and faculty are forced to wait outside the commission meeting.
Photo by Joe Fitzgerald

The Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges has the power to close City College of San Francisco, and students and faculty in line at the San Francisco Airport Marriott June 7 were there to hear about the fate of their school.

But at the only public meeting available to meet with City College’s accreditors in more than seven months, some 30 people were barred from entry.

The doors were were shut, police said, because there were only about 20 seats available.

Even the San Francisco Chronicle’s higher education reporter, Nanette Asimov, was left outside, haggling with officers to get into the meeting -- and she called ahead to reserve a seat.

Lalo Gonzalez, a City College student who was recently elected to the Associated Students Senate, was dismayed at not being able to meet with the accreditation agency. “I would’ve assumed they would have reached out to students,” he said.

But they didn’t.

The commission made its decision June 6 on whether City College would keep its accreditation -- without which the school would lose state funding and close. But that decision won’t be revealed until early July.
The accreditors put the school sanction for a number of reasons, mostly fiscal but also relating to measuring student achievement. The college has 85,000 students and nearly 2,600 faculty.

The meeting was held at the same Marriott used many times in the past for meetings, the commissioners said. But unlike normal meetings, on June 7 there were four police officers, two from Burlingame PD and two from City College, who patrolled more than 60 feet of metal barriers erected around the corner.

Part of that may have been reaction to the 30 demonstrators from the Save CCSF coalition ( that protested outside the accreditor’s closed meeting Wednesday.

“I was shocked that we couldn't get in,” student Sharon Shatterly said.

No bags, recording devices, or cameras were allowed in the meeting. As a private entity, the accreditation commission does not fall under California open access laws like the Brown Act.
Inside, 24 commissioners from the agency were seated, dealing with the day-to-day business of managing matters of California’s 112 community colleges, seemingly unconcerned about the dozens who waited outside wishing to speak. In fact, only two public speakers were allowed to address the accreditors.

One was Teeka James, a San Mateo community college teacher speaking on behalf of the California Federation of Teachers and the American Federation of Teachers. She read aloud a litany of complaints about the accreditors, alleging that the teams sent to evaluate community colleges didn’t have enough faculty members, that the policies of the accreditors weren’t values “widely accepted” by educators or other accrediting bodies, and that there was a lack of transparency in how they operate.

She especially bemoaned the agency’s conflict of interest --  the commission president is Barbara Beno, and her husband served on the team that visited and evaluated City College a year ago, which resulted in the severe sanction the school is under today.

The president and the reviewing agents are supposed to be independent entities.

“To serve the students and people of California properly, ACCJC has to change or be delisted by the Department of Education,” James said. “The time is now.”

She was basically summarizing an official complaint about the accreditation agency sent to the Department of Education last month. It’s 280 pages long, and the allegations are serious.

After her presentation, the members of the commission started to grill her.

“What qualifications do you have? What is the source of your evidence?” said Steven Kinsella, who was named in the official complaint as someone whose ties to business constituted a conflict of interest to his role as a commissioner on the ACCJC. He is a “public member” of the agency.

The questions kept coming – and some were about James herself.

“I don’t think they took her very seriously,” said Fred Teti, president of the City College Academic Senate.

James also argued that the accreditors needed to be more transparent about their process, which was exemplified by the dozens of people who weren’t let into the meeting. Beno disagreed.

“We’re a private institution,” she said. “You can imagine a college president comes in and they discuss matters that could be embarrassing or challenging. That can’t occur in public.”
Outside, the students who had come to talk to the commission that may potentially close their school sat beside each other in the sun, watching the blue of the bay from the hotel’s patio.

And what would Gonzalez and his fellow students have said to the panel if they had gotten in?

“I would’ve asked about if they knew how this was affecting my people, people of color. I would’ve asked about EOPS,” he said, which is the second chance program at City College for those coming out of prison. “They’ve cut over 30 counselors, they’re dismantling the school in the name of accreditation.”

Gonzalez and all of San Francisco will have to wait until the beginning of July to find out what will happen to City College.


While hearing the views of people who have an obvious bias about the outcome clearly add nothing to the discovery process that is being made.

A decision will be made and all parties will be expected to abide by it.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 4:43 pm

Fire regulations? I was one of the the lucky few that made it in. There were fewer than 60 people in a room that the Marriott lists as suitable for 200. I saw plenty of room for another 20 - 30 chairs for visitors to the meeting.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

going to make exactly the same self-serving comments, how and why would they have added anything to the meeting or the decision to be made?

We already know what those people think - they don't care how bad the college is, nor how financially and academically doomed it is, they just want to keep their generous pay and benefit package.

So what?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 6:57 am

The "Accreditor" ACCJC has once again discredited itself. Their one and only much publicized "public session" has seating for only 20. Interesting. Did they plan it that way or did they fail to plan? The "accreditor" which demands "transparency" and "accountability" from others has once again shown their hypocrisy and double standards. Way past time for them to go ..... and their puppets Bob Agrella and Larry Kramer as well.

Posted by Rick on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 5:17 pm

if a few dozen more whiners had been admitted?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 6:58 am

The "Accreditor" ACCJC has once again discredited itself. Their one and only much publicized "public session" has seating for only 20. Interesting. Did they plan it that way or did they fail to plan? The "accreditor" which demands "transparency" and "accountability" from others has once again shown their hypocrisy and double standards. Way past time for them to go ..... and their puppets Bob Agrella and Larry Kramer as well.

Posted by Rick on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 5:18 pm

They had TWICE as many employees as similar sized institutions and were showering all of them (including part-timers) with gold-plated benefits the school clearly could no afford.

AND why bother collecting student fees - too much of a burden on ALL of these fine public servants...

What a disgrace - shut down the clown show.

Start over. These folks make BART look efficient.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 7:50 pm


Posted by AnotherGuest on Jun. 09, 2013 @ 8:57 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2013 @ 6:59 am

I saw you made the same comment on sfgate. Do you just go around trolling stories about City College? How awkward.

Posted by Guest on Jul. 11, 2013 @ 9:12 pm

Stop City College of San Francisco's Forced Closure! Cut Costs by Contracting Out the Law Enforcement Services. Many Colleges across the USA contract out their law enforcement services to local law enforcement agencies.

The benefits of the contract, which include:

1. Consistent and guaranteed staffing levels.

2. Reduced liability exposure to the college.

3. Expansion and growth capabilities.

4. Comprehensive law enforcement services.

We believe CCSF should contract out the Law Enforcement Services base on cost saving factors and the above benefits.

If you care about San Francisco, you should sign this petition. It will offer an idea, if implemented that would offer a cost saving measure for CCSF by contracting Law Enforcement Services instead of CCSF attempting to run its on Campus Police. Based on the Accreditation audit CCSF had poor management and fiscal waste. CCSF should not be in the law enforcement business. Contract the Law Enforcement Services to a large agency in SF and leave it to the professionals.

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Meeting and other conversations and some more delegate talks are even happens in bars because all the deals between the people and clients used to be held in bars. I have seen people like to take different types of drinks in such places. Some college functions also happens in such places. Public events also used to happen in such places like bar where you can talk to your friends as well as the other persons.

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Interesting, my college experience wasn't the most memorable, so i can't recall if anything like this ever occured.

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Posted by auto loan calculator on Jun. 11, 2014 @ 11:40 pm

I'm from the Boston area and we have lots of bars and a huge Irish community so it's heavily embrace to mingle and meet and discuss at bars. We also have a a very dense population of college student. There are so many things going on in the city from parties, conventions, and college events.

Posted by Boston Event Services on Jun. 20, 2014 @ 10:01 am

We have lots of college students in our area and there are always events going on at bars near the local colleges. There is also a huge Irish population here so it is embrace here to meet over a drink.

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