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San Francisco sues to block City College sanctions

SAN FRANCISCO — San Francisco's city attorney took legal action Thursday to stop the agency that certifies two-year colleges in the western U.S. from revoking the accreditation of the city's community college, a sanction likely to force California's largest school to close.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera filed a lawsuit alleging that politics, not performance, is behind the penalty the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges imposed on City College of San Francisco last month.

The commission notified City College that it would lose its accreditation next summer for failing to meet quality assurance standards in areas such as financial management and instructional standards. Because unaccredited schools are ineligible for state and federal funding, the revocation would likely force the college of 85,000 students to close.

While the college appeals the decision, Herrera is asking a judge to block the commission from terminating the school's certification if the appeal is unsuccessful. In the city's lawsuit, he alleges that City College is being punished because its leaders strongly opposed a statewide plan designed to increase the number of community college students earning degrees and to shorten the amount of time it takes for them to do it.

The commission favored the plan, and some of its members have financial ties to for-profit colleges that could benefit by the closure of City College, he said.

"The evidence is clear that the ACCJC ignored multiple conflicts of interest, flouted laws, and allowed its political advocacy to color public responsibilities it should frankly never have been given," Herrera said.

The commission's president Barbara Beno, did not return a telephone call seeking comment.

California Community Colleges Chancellor Brice Harris has encouraged city and college officials to work to satisfy the commission's concerns instead of fighting the agency.

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