The accrediting commission that placed Pasadena City College on probation this past summer is now being investigated for not complying with accrediting standards and is expected to revaluate their system for accrediting colleges.
In early November, the California Community College Board of Governors (CCCBG) voted to create an accreditation task force and directed the Chancellor’s Office to create a new model for accrediting the 113 colleges in the California Community College system.
The Accrediting Commission for Community Colleges (ACCJC) is responsible for executing the required accreditation reviews with accuracy and transparency, and recently placed PCC on probation for not meeting the standards of accreditation. When evaluating an institution, the commission has the power to place the school on a public sanction, which could be in the form of a warning or probation resulting in the institution losing their accreditation.
According to the resolution signed by the Board of Governors at the Nov.16 board meeting, between 2009 and 2013 ACCJC had a sanction rate of approximately 53 percent compared to 12 percent within other regions which resulted in the Board of Governors appointing special trustees for two college districts and suspending the authority of democratically elected local governing boards.
The resolution also states that, “The current structure of ACCJC, along with its lack of credibility as perceived by its peers and the public, no longer meet the current and anticipated needs of California Community Colleges.”
Consequently, Chancellor Brice Harris will present a recommendation for action and a plan for implementing the recommendation with a timeline at the March 16 meeting.
“A revamp of the accreditation system could take as long as 10 years and would not affect PCC’s situation … There is no flipping a switch and moving the college over to a new (accreditation) agency,” Paul Feist, spokesman for the Chancellor’s Office, told the Pasadena Star-News. “And there is also a provision that if a college is on sanction it can’t switch accreditors.”
Shortly after the ruling, Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien sent out an email to faculty and staff with information regarding the board’s decision and that it would not affect the work that is being done on campus to become fully accredited.
“Irrespective of our own accreditation status, the action taken by the Board of Governors is the beginning of a very complicated, sensitive, and time-consuming process,” said Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien. “The plan put forward by the Chancellor’s Office will integrate input, feedback, and approvals from stakeholders across many regions and levels of government, up to and including the U.S. Department of Education. The whole process is not within the control of the Chancellor’s Office or the Board of Governors. Rather it is in the hands of other agencies that are not under the control of the Board of Governors.”
“The October 2016 deadline established in our accreditation report remains in effect, and our campus accreditation team is on track to address the recommendations identified by the committee,” Vurdien added.
Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs Kathy Scott, who serves as the school’s accreditation liaison officer, has been leading the workgroups into addressing the recommendations provided by ACCJC since last spring and remains focused on the task at hand.
“Our focus is on making sure that PCC meets the accreditation standards and we are fully reaffirmed,” Scott said. “The workgroups have been doing a really good job. We’ve had over 60 faculty, staff, administrators, and students serving on the various workgroups in total. We feel very, very positive about the progress that we’re making and that is my sole focus.”
There will be an accreditation newsletter sent out to faculty and staff later this week in an effort to be more transparent with the work being done in the accreditation process. The newsletter will be posted on the accreditation website, which also has the accreditation recommendations and timeline.
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