Senators Nielsen and Beall Seek Audit of Controversial College Accreditating Commission

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Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Joint Legislative Audit Committee today approved an audit request by Senators Jim Nielsen (R-Gerber) and 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.

“Any entity that uses taxpayers’ monies must be accountable and transparent in its transactions,” said Sen. Nielsen. “The leadership at this college accrediting commission has overreached their authority and has not been forthcoming in their decision-making process.”

Nielsen added, “Instead of serving the needs of college students, the commission is busy manipulating outdated regulations and shredding documents to prevent their disclosure.”

In a bipartisan effort to bring accountability to the commission, Sen. Beall stated, “The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges virtually operates unfettered with little to no oversight, 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 deserve to understand how this commission makes and arrives at decisions that affect the futures of so many Californians.’’

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 U.S. Department of Education has found that the accrediting commission violated several regulations in its evaluation of the City College of San Francisco (CCSF). Among its findings is the employment of accrediting commission President Barbara Beno’s husband to the team that evaluated CCSF, which 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 by 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.