Credo High School, the Waldorf-inspired high school in Rohnert Park that was at the center of a debate over its future in Sonoma County's third largest school district, has been awarded accreditation through 2017.
The three-year designation, recommended by the Western Association of School and Colleges, allows Credo officials to pursue approval of their college-preparatory curriculum with the University of California and California State University systems.
"It's kind of a milestone that we have crossed as a new school — that external endorsement of the program," said Credo director Chip Romer.
"I think we do what the state and UCs accept and more," he said.
The accreditation makes transferring credits between schools smoother while affording students a more straightforward path in college applications.
It comes just months after the three-year-old school was on the brink of losing its charter with the Cotati-Rohnert Park School Board in a dispute over the school's operations and sustainability. The school's accreditation status had been a point of contention between district and school officials.
After months of sometimes-tense negotiations, the school board in October rescinded its notice of intent to revoke the school's charter and vowed to maintain a more hands-off approach with the school that currently serves 100 ninth, 10th and 11th graders.
"We are pleased they are making progress and that they were able to successfully gain initial accreditation," Cotati-Rohnert Park Superintendent Robert Haley, who said the district now maintains "minimal oversight" of the school.
Since it opened in 2011, Credo has posted the third-highest state test scores of any high school in Sonoma County.
Waldorf education emphasizes low-technology and hands-on curriculum, linking classes like blacksmithing with physics lessons in thermodynamics, Romer said.
"We know inherently the standards are being hit," said Credo Board President Maria Martinez. "I think the message would be that we really can accomplish what we said we would do."
The accreditation was expected among the school community, Romer said.
"I think they see it as a proud achievement that no one is too surprised by, but happy that we can put that WASC seal on our documents and website," he said. "There was a round of applause and we move on."
(Staff Writer Kerry Benefield writes an education blog at extracredit.blogs.pressdemocrat.com. She can be reached at 526-8671, kerry.benefield@press democrat.com or on Twitter @benefield.)