Beall Seeks Audit of Controversial College Accrediting Commission

August 21, 2013

SACRAMENTO – The Joint Legislative Audit Committee today approved an audit request by Sen. Jim Beall, D-San Jose, to analyze how the unilateral and unmonitored actions taken by the accrediting agency for California’s community colleges affect campuses’ finances and programs.

“The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges virtually operates unfettered with little to no oversight,’’ Beall said, “yet its decisions have a direct impact on the world’s biggest system of higher education with over 2 million students. The public and the Legislature deserves to understand how this commission makes and arrives at decisions that affects the futures of so many Californians.’’

Senator Jim Nielsen, R-Gerber, who requested the audit with Beall, said: “Any entity that uses taxpayers’ monies must be accountable and transparent in its transactions. The leadership at this college accrediting commission has overreached their authority and has not been forthcoming in their decision-making process.Instead of serving the needs of college students, the commission is busy manipulating outdated regulations and shredding documents to prevent their disclosure.”

The bipartisan audit comes in the wake of the accrediting commission’s decision to revoke the accreditation of the state’s largest community college, the City College of San Francisco, which serves about 90,000 students, based on allegations that the school had failed to adopt corrective measures to ensure its financial stability. The revocation could take effect next summer. The college has filed an appeal with the accrediting commission.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Education determined the accrediting commission had violated several regulations in its evaluation of CCSF. Among its findings is that the employment of accrediting commission President Barbara Beno’s husband on the team that evaluated CCSF gave the appearance of a conflict of interest.

As the accrediting commission’s actions came under fire, members of evaluating teams were instructed to destroy documents relating to their reviews of community colleges.

The audit will examine whether the accrediting commission has exceeded its authority as evidenced by the disparate number of California community colleges receiving sanctions in comparison with community colleges in other states; whether it has disregarded state laws governing community college and contractual agreements; imposing costs and unnecessary policies without the approval or oversight of the Legislature; and channeling limited resources from student services to fund accrediting commission directives for new administrative functions and positions.