Legal victory and congressional forum fuel fight to save City College

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Photo by Mike Koozmin/SF Examiner, Illustration by SFBG

The fight against closure of City College reached a new milestone yesterday when a federal judge struck down a motion that might have placed a lawsuit challenging the closure on shaky legal ground. 

In August the San Francisco City Attorney’s office sued the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges, the agency that is seeking City College’s closure, in a bid to keep the institution’s doors open. The commission evaluates community colleges in the western region, and last July promised to revoke City College’s accreditation in a year.

The allegations in the lawsuit are simple: The ACCJC moved to close City College for political reasons. City College stood up for vulnerable students being priced out of education and the ACCJC maintained an austerity regime, tainting its verdict to close the school.

Last month the ACCJC filed a motion to have that lawsuit heard in federal court, a move that could have put any ruling on shaky legal ground, the City Attorney’s office told the Guardian. But as of yesterday, Nov/5, that hurdle has been cleared. 

If their fight for survival is like chess, the accrediting commission just lost a bishop.

It’s no checkmate, but it’s an important step on the way to saving City College. 

ACCJC President Barbara Beno was traveling and unavailable for comment, a spokesperson for the commission told the Guardian. 

Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg explained why it was important for the suit to be heard on the state level.

“If we won [in federal court], any time down the road someone could say, there’s no jurisdiction [in federal court] and toss out our win,” she told the Guardian. 

So a suit in federal court would be more vulnerable to dismissal, a possible reason for why ACCJC pushed to have it heard there, Eisenberg explained. Both the City Attorney and the ACCJC were slated to defend their positions on Fri/8.

The judge made a decision earlier than anticipated. The ACCJC wanted the case to be heard in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.  It will now be heard in the Sn Francisco Superior Court (the state court where we originally filed it). The case may even pick up a little speed as a result, Eisenberg said. With a deadline of July 2014 to save City College, every day counts.

Meanwhile, ACCJC is facing more scrutiny from elected officials. Congresswoman Jackie Speier, whose district covers the southern end of San Francisco (including City College’s main campus) is holding a forum tomorrow to address the question, “Is the accrediting process for California’s community colleges fair and accountable?”

Speier isn’t alone. Congresswoman Anna Eshoo and State Senator Jim Beall will be on hand to shine a light on the ACCJC’s practices. Beall is a notable attendee because he called for a state level inquiry into the ACCJC, which we covered previously (Changing the Narrative, Aug. 27). 

Notably silent are Mayor Ed Lee and Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi. Lee has so far backed the notion that City College should keep quiet about its accreditation woes and conform to the commission’s demands, following the lead of the state community college chancellor. 

And though you’d think City College is too local of an issue for Pelosi to care about, she managed to find the time to be City College’s graduation commencement speaker two years ago -- so shouldn’t she find the time to defend it from closing? 

Their silence aside, there is now a state-level audit, two lawsuits, and a cohort of state legislators and congresspeople all scrutinizing the accrediting commission that’s looking to close City College.

Look out for our live Twitter coverage of the forum tomorrow, and for coverage of it in our print edition next week.

Comments

The article says that the City Attorney did not want the suit in federal court.

But then, the article states: "Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg explained why it was important for the suit to be heard in the Northern District of California."

The Northern District of California IS federal court. The federal court here is the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Posted by The Commish on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 5:34 pm

"Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg explained why it was important for the suit to be heard in the Northern District of California."

The DCA's reference could have been in response to why this particular court hearing was important, which was being held in federal court, ie, "Northern District".

But yeah, as far as the underlying case filed by the DA, it seems the sentence should reference "Superior Court" to logically fit with the rest of the story.

But you missed the best part of the article while you were looking for gotcha's:

"... there is now a state-level audit, two lawsuits, and a cohort of state legislators and congresspeople all scrutinizing the accrediting commission that’s looking to close City College."

That's real power! Even one of those actions would be nerve-racking. Go City College!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 7:45 pm

I would like to talk to you, to me is what to tell on this question.

Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 09, 2013 @ 2:45 pm

Prompt to me please where I can read about it?

Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 10:00 am

I know, Rodrugues needs a better editor. I could barely pick the peanuts out of that piece...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:26 pm

And I'm a hungry little CCSF-educated monkey...

Posted by Chudmonkey5000 on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:38 pm

True, the reporter needs a better editor. I could barely pick the peanuts out of that piece, and I'm a hungry little CCSF-educated monkey...

Posted by Guest on Nov. 13, 2013 @ 2:45 pm
Posted by Guest on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 5:34 pm
Posted by anon on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 5:54 pm

If it is I hope that the Guardian uses it's power of the press to lobby for adults managing the place.

Instead of basing it's endorsements on progressive politics, perhaps the Guardian could base it's endorsement on abilities.

Posted by Matlock on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

Thoughts, Suggestions, Questions:
* good article
* put storm clouds over ACCJC next time
* prepare photo of sunny skies over CCSF
* monitor the "guest" and "anon" comments which always appear on this subject. they are suspicious diatribes against a good college supported by 73% of SF.
* why is the SF Chron so quiet on this now that it's ACCJC on the hot seat?

Posted by rick sterling on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 9:04 pm

I really wish I knew where the army of trolls came from that pop up around this topic. Good article. Good comment on the Northern court being federal. Great comments on Lee (where is he?) and Pelosi (where is she?)

Posted by GuestSFLocal on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 11:22 pm

Try contacting Nancy Pelosi's office about CCSF. The office staffer is nasty and hostile.

Posted by Donna on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:03 am

So why is the Guardian using it? Have you no shame?

Posted by Lucretia Snapples on Nov. 06, 2013 @ 11:44 pm

Twitter is evil! Evil, evil, evil! #sfbg #twitterisevil

Posted by racer さ on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 6:09 am

Lotta champagne is going to get drank tonight in the better bars of SF.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 7:03 am

Really loving these new barcaloungers, Dave!

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 1:08 am

A developer could make more money if the land and buildings are acquired cheaply, developed and sold.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 7:18 am

City College has been educating people since 1935

Posted by Guest Thanks on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 7:24 am

It's sink or swim in the Land of the Free. If they can't afford Stanford, they need to take their rightful place in society. Picking fruit, sweeping floors for the rich, or in jail.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 8:47 am

Oh no wait, then they will get fancy ideas above their station.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 9:21 am

Jason Grant Garza here...oh wait...hold on...

I'm not sure who the other Chromefields is, above, but I am flattered by the homage. I found his composition a bit coarse, a bit lacking in nuance, but alack, the internet does not lend itself to elegance. Just ask Racer X (or his mom).

I've never met a single person who went to City College who learned a single thing worth knowing. So what the heck, let's keep it open. At least it keeps the riff-raff off the streets, and if it swells their chests for a moment to feel "edgykayted" before they hop the bus to their dead-end job, then so much the better. It's a win win win.

Posted by Chromefields on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:40 pm

On a day when cash is raining down on SF, can we not spare a thought for the CCSF-educated great unwashed whose employment possibilities have been vastly expanded now that we have hundreds more millionaires in the city (none of whom attended CCSF of course) and who will now be hiring cleaner, waiters, drivers, gardeners, handymen and so on.

The few really can save the many.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:55 pm

Fool. The minute the electricity goes out so does you computer job.
Do you geeks really think computers play such a big role in the world that we cannot do without them? Spare us the diatribe. Fact is rich scummy yuppie computer geeks have never ever contribute anything of real value to the world. I know facebook, twitter and all the other BS time wasting games and gagets are really as important as the fire department, nursing or construction trades. Not! The world could do without all the over paid self hyped so-called intellectual computer nurds that contribute nothing and will surely go the way of the dinosaurs.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 1:07 pm

What do you contribute?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 1:25 pm

Fool. The minute the electricity goes out so does you computer job.
Do you geeks really think computers play such a big role in the world that we cannot do without them? Spare us the diatribe. Fact is rich scummy yuppie computer geeks have never ever contribute anything of real value to the world. I know facebook, twitter and all the other BS time wasting games and gagets are really as important as the fire department, nursing or construction trades. Not! The world could do without all the over paid self hyped so-called intellectual computer nurds that contribute nothing and will surely go the way of the dinosaurs.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

I learned my trade at City College.
Who the hell do you think you are?
Watch your back traitor as the guillotines come out and right back into style for you pigs.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 11, 2013 @ 12:56 pm

I want to go to the University of Aspen.

Posted by marcos on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 9:22 am

Which you won't if you can't do better than CCSF.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 12:47 pm

We need a strong City College. We won't get there by watering down standards, by attacking those who are trying to assure quality education in the name of the students.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:27 am

We need a strong City College. We won't get there by watering down standards, by attacking those who are trying to assure quality education in the name of the students.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:28 am

Excise the bad parts, and maybe privatize what is left.

Best bet for survival.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 11:34 am

I attended CCSF in 1975 and I'm kinda proud of that!
Okay, so I didn't graduate and I didn't land a primo job either, but I met and married my best friend and I'm grateful to that college for being there for him-for us. Can anyone else relate?

Posted by Guest on Nov. 07, 2013 @ 4:17 pm

On your place I would ask the help for users of this forum.

Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 10:00 am

On your place I would ask the help for users of this forum.

Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 08, 2013 @ 10:00 am
Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 09, 2013 @ 2:44 pm
Posted by Lepappoic on Nov. 09, 2013 @ 2:44 pm

fuck in that woman has got to go by any means necessary including unrestrained political violence.

Posted by Guest on Nov. 12, 2013 @ 4:04 pm

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