More Trouble for California Community Colleges

More Trouble for California Community Colleges
After City College of San Francisco loses its accreditation, other community colleges in the state are facing warnings, sanctions and possible loss of accreditation as well.
Photo Credit: lensovet via Wikipedia Commons
Before the dust even settles on problems faced by City College of San Francisco, other California community colleges may be facing similar challenges. The largest community college in the state was recently notified it would lose its accreditation by next summer. Now, other schools in the state are dealing with warnings, sanctions, and possible loss of accreditation as well. What does the future hold for community colleges in the Golden State?
Accreditation Reviews Hit the State
The Accrediting Commission for Junior and Community Colleges (ACJCC) has been busy in recent months, reviewing California schools and making recommendations for follow-up action as needed. The comprehensive process resulted in the termination of accreditation for City College of San Francisco, the largest community college in the state with a student population of 85,000. In addition, other schools have been issued warnings and one was placed on probation after the review was completed.
The news is not all bad in California, however. Some community colleges in the state also had warnings upgraded to lighter sanctions or had the warnings removed altogether. While the list of schools recently reviewed is a long one, we’ll take a look at a few of the highlights of the report that shed light on the state of the California Community College System overall.
Community Colleges Working Through Sanctions
Two community colleges in the state will begin the process of working through their list of recommendations to get their sanctions removed by next summer. The Los Angeles Daily News reports that both Los Angeles Mission and Los Angeles Valley colleges have received warnings from the commission. The warnings issued were the lightest sanctions possible and the schools will maintain their full accreditation during the improvement time. Still, the schools still have their work cut out for them.
Los Angeles Valley College will spend the next year focusing on its large budget deficit. The commission provided the school with eight recommendations for improving operations, including the leadership framework necessary for “sound financial decision-making.” During the 2012-2013 school year, Los Angeles Valley posted a budget deficit of around $1.5 million.
Troubles at Los Angeles Mission College primarily revolve around issues of governance and sound decision-making. This school received 14 recommendations from the commission, which ran the gamut from improving student outcomes to revamping teaching styles in the classroom. The letter from the commission included additional recommendations, such as a plan for distance education, monitoring of resource allocation, and a formal process for reviewing the school’s mission statement on a regular basis.   
Both of the schools were informed they could reaffirm their accreditation within one year if all the recommendations are met at that time. If not, the schools have two years to address all the recommendations or lose accreditation completely. Loss of accreditation is a major problem for community colleges since it directly impacts their students’ ability to get financial aid or transfer credits earned to four-year schools.
Optimism for Fixing Problems
Both schools are optimistic they will be able to make the necessary changes and aim to do it within the one-year time frame. Monte Perez, president of Los Angeles Mission College, told the Los Angeles Daily News he felt the sanctions were fair and he plans to accomplish the full list of recommendations within a year. Officials for the Los Angeles Community College District have also voiced optimism that both schools are on the right track to positive progress and should be able to address the commission’s recommendations within that time frame.
Yasmin Delahoussaye, vice chancellor for education programs and institutional effectiveness for the district, told the Los Angeles Daily News, “These are colleges that have received recommendations for improvement. Given the track record, they’re on, we are confident that these issues will be resolved during the time period.”
Probation Given to School for the Second Time
Another school, Hartnell College, did not fare as well in the recent commission review. According to the Monterey County Herald, the school was placed on probation by the commission for the second time in six years. The school is also required to file two reports over the next two years that demonstrate the school’s progress in meeting commission recommendations. Although probation means the school is not currently meeting all accreditation requirements, accreditation does continue throughout the probationary period.
The commission listed 12 areas of concern the school will need to address or face a possible loss of accreditation. However, school officials assured the Monterey County Herald that Hartnell is a long way from City College of San Francisco.
“We have been addressing all of the recommendations contained in the action letter and report during the 2012-2013 year, and already have made much progress on all of the recommendations,” Willard Lewallen, president of Hartnell College, told the Herald.
And Now, the Good News
While some California colleges will have their hands full working toward regaining their positive standings in the community college system, other schools received news worth celebrating. According to the commission’s report, four schools were removed from warning and had their accreditation reaffirmed. Those schools include College of Alameda, Merced College, Merritt College, and West Los Angeles College. Two schools were also removed from probation and reaffirmed accreditation, including Los Angeles Harbor College.
While some schools are reveling in recent news from the accreditation commission, other schools will have to put their noses close to the grindstone to churn out serious results. It will be some time before students and community college officials will discover which schools will make the grade and which might suffer similar consequences to City College.
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