August 15, 2013 Thelma Scott-‐Skillman Interim Chancellor City College of San Francisco Conlan Hall 50 Phelan Street San Francisco, CA 94112 Robert Agrella Special Trustee City College of San Francisco 50 Phelan Street San Francisco, CA 94112 Re: Requests of the AFT 2121 and CFT for a review of Disaccreditation Dear Drs. Scott-‐Skillman and Agrella: I write on behalf of the American Federation of Teachers local 2121 and the California Federation of Teachers. Neither of your offices has contacted us in regard to the contents of the District’s request for a review of the disaccreditation decision of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC). We are surprised by this occurrence because we have already filed a lengthy complaint against the ACCJC, and have information concerning the actions of the Commission, which is relevant to the College’s request for review. In particular, we received on August 13, 2013 the results of the United States Department of Education’s (US DoE) review of the Complaint. The US DoE found that the 2012 review by ACCJC, which led to Show Cause status and subsequently disaccreditation was fatally flawed. The evaluation team, which the ACCJC staff – headed by President Beno – appointed for City College of San Francisco in 2012 was invalidly constituted. This is because Ms. Beno’s husband was placed on the team. The US DoE agreed this was a conflict of interest, which violated Federal regulations 34 CFR section 602.15(a)(6). The conclusion that the Commission does not meet the Secretary’s criteria means the team’s evaluation was prejudiced by her husband’s involvement in the assessment of CCSF and consequently the Evaluation Team Report should be considered null and void. There was no valid team evaluation for the Commission to rely on. The Commission’s decision to place CCSF on Show Cause sanction is therefore itself null and void. These violations go to the legitimacy of the evaluation team and the subsequent actions of the Commission. If that conflict is not enough, the team was also invalidly created because it lacked sufficient educators. There were only 3 faculty members on the team out of a total of 17 members. In appointing this team
without sufficient faculty educators, ACCJC’s staff, headed by Ms. Beno, did not comply with Federal law. And if that wasn’t enough, the team and the Commission both erred in penalizing CCSF because the ACCJC had not clearly informed CCSF prior to July 2012 that it had deficiencies. This violated 34 CFR section 602.15a (3). In 2012, the Commission wrongfully relied on the existence of these alleged deficiencies to issue Show Cause, and later disaccreditation. Had CCSF been promptly notified of deficiencies, if they existed, in 2006, ACCJC was duty-‐bound to give it two years to correct them. ACCJC did not give this two-‐year notice, more proof there were in fact no deficiencies. The US DoE correctly found that ACCJC failed to give proper notice or due process to CCSF. The ACCJC’s violations, confirmed by the DoE, mandate that accreditation be fully restored, and that the sanctions of Show Cause and Disaccreditation be rescinded. Accordingly, we write to ask that the Chancellor, the College, and the Special Trustee present the entire CFT complaint of April 30th, and the follow-‐up complaints, as part of its request for review, as well as the US DoE letter of August 13, 2013. We also request that CCSF’s reasons for review include the following grounds: 1. Errors or omissions in carrying out prescribed procedures on the part of the evaluation team and/or Commission which materially affected the Commission’s decision, including but not limited to the following; § § §
There was no basis for Show Cause, as demonstrated by the CFT’s Complaints to the ACCJC and DOE, and the USDE letter. Show Cause was invalid because of the violations set forth in the Complaint and those found valid in the USDE letter. The decision of the USDE, issued August 13, 2013, confirms that the evaluation teams created by the Commission for the Show Cause review in 2012, and the subsequent Show Cause review, were created in violation of the DOE’s regulations, and hence their decisions were invalid and both Show Cause and Disaccreditation decisions must be reversed. As set forth in the Complaint, the ACCJC’s actions in placing CCSF on Show Cause were in violation of law, and there was no basis for a Show Cause review in 2012-‐2013.
2. There was demonstrable bias or prejudice on the part of one or more members of the evaluation team or Commission, which materially affected the Commission’s decision, including but not limited to: § § § §
Insufficient faculty and mix of educators on the 2012 team and the 2013 Show Cause evaluation team. Inclusion of Yulian Liguoso, a trustee of the Community College League of California (CCLC) Retiree Health Benefits JPA, on the 2012 Show Cause team, due to conflict of interest. Inclusion of Frank Gornick and Steven Kinsella on the Commission due to conflict of interest involving the CCLC JPA. The Commission as a whole was disqualified from determining the accreditation of CCSF
because of its support of SB 1456, in opposition to the expressed position of CCSF. This conflict of interest also suggests retaliation against CCSF, and materially affected the outcome of the ACCJC review. 3. The evidence before the Commission prior to and on the date when it made the decision, which is being appealed, was materially in error. This includes, but is not limited to, the evidence of leadership, governance, and finances of CCSF. 4. The decision of the Commission was not supported by substantial evidence. We ask that the Trustee, College, and State share its proposed statement of reasons for review with us in a timely fashion, so we may have further input, and include the information set forth above. We hereby reserve the right to initiate appropriate legal or administrative actions, to challenge the disaccreditation of CCSF, and to add to, modify, supplement or amend the grounds for such action. Moreover, the parties hereto reserve the right to raise grounds beyond those specified above. Let me close by emphasizing the importance of the US DoE’s findings to this appeal. ACCJC cannot rely on evaluation reports, which were the result of improperly constituted teams. This alone is a sufficient basis for a review. We are aware that the College is coming up against the deadline to submit the reasons for review, and so I look forward to hearing from you immediately in regard to these serious matters. Sincerely,
Alisa Messer, President, AFT Local 2121
cc: Josh Pechthalt, CFT President Jim Mahler, CFT Community College Council President Robert Bezemek, Legal Counsel Steve Bruckman, Counsel to the Chancellor’s Office and Trustee
Letter from the AFT and CFT to Special Trustee Robert Agrella and Interim-chancellor Thelma Scott-Skillman on Sept. 15, 2013 regarding the r...