“The lack of transparency that we have seen needs to change”: Supe Campos Calls Out CCSF’s “Special Trustee”

City College of San Francisco should have its elected Board of Trustees restored by state officials who last year installed a special trustee to oversee the school during its accreditation fight, a city supervisor said today.

Supervisor David Campos today introduced a resolution calling on California Community Colleges Board of Governors to restore the power of City College’s trustees.

The state panel last July stripped the trustees of their power after the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges announced their decision to revoke City College’s accreditation because of issues the commission found with the school’s finances and governance structure.

The Board of Governors installed a special trustee, Robert Agrella, who has unilateral decisions over the rules and regulations of City College.

“We cannot allow this to continue to be the case,” Campos said.

“The lack of transparency that we have seen needs to change.”

Campos, whose resolution was co-sponsored by four fellow supervisors—Eric Mar, John Avalos, Scott Wiener and Norman Yee—said Agrella has made decisions that have angered City College students, faculty and staff, including raising pay for certain administrators.

“There are decisions that have been made unfortunately behind closed doors,” Campos said. “They … would not have been made had there been an open, democratic process and a forum for the public to actually know about these decisions.”

State Assemblyman Tom Ammiano said in a statement that he supports Campos’ resolution.

“State officials have usurped the rights of the electorate and stained the democratic process,” Ammiano said. “The actions to disenfranchise the voters are not helping the college, they hurt it.”

Agrella said in August that the installation of a special trustee was needed to expedite changes to the school and said he did not see a board of trustees regaining power at City College “for some time to come,” with him or another special trustee likely overseeing the school for “several years.”

City College is appealing the accrediting commission’s decision to revoke the school’s accreditation.

The decision was set to take effect this July until a San Francisco Superior Court judge last month issued an injunction barring it from taking effect until lawsuits filed by the city attorney’s office and the school’s teachers union can finish.

The lawsuits allege that the ACCJC unfairly ruled against the school and that the commission engaged in conflicts of interest during its review.

While the fight over City College’s accreditation continues, on Monday, state Sen. Mark Leno announced legislation that seeks to stabilize the school’s funding.

If approved by the Legislature, Leno’s bill would provide steady funding for the school over the next four years even if student enrollment continues to drop because of the accreditation uncertainty.

School officials say student enrollment at City College is down 16 percent compared to last year.

Dan McMenamin, Bay City News

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  • KPV

    It’s worth remembering why the elected Board was sidelined. Here’s an excerpt from the July 3, 2013 letter from the accreditation commission to City College (http://bit.ly/7-3-13DecisionLetter).

    “The governing board has been unable to perform its appropriate roles and assume responsibility for united leadership, and its actions undermine the ability of the Chancellor to move expeditiously to make needed changes. The Show Cause Team Report states: ‘As reported in the Show Cause Report, and verified by
    the Show Cause Visiting Team, the Board still engages in behaviors that violates
    its own code of ethics and definition of roles and responsibilities. In
    addition, the Show Cause Report presents evidence that Board members have
    difficulty in delegating authority to the Chancellor, either by undermining
    decisions made by the Board or by interfering with the implementation of
    policies adopted by the Board.’ “

    • Justizin

      Also worth remembering: the accrediting commission’s grievances *specifically* have to do with staffing decisions that favor administrators over faculty. Doesn’t seem to me that a special trustee giving raises to administrators – many of whom I have experienced the willful incompetence of – has any connection to the stated goals in this situation.

      • KPV

        Thanks for the reply. Can you point me to that section of the
        commission’s work? My recollection is that the commission found in 2012 that the college had inadequate administration, as in the administrative ranks were too thin and too many of them were working on an interim basis.

        “The Commission is concerned about adequacy of administrative
        leadership. Many of the administrative staff positions, including the
        Chancellor position, are filled by temporary employees, and the College
        lacks adequate numbers of administrators with the appropriate
        administrative structure and authority to provide oversight and
        leadership for the institution’s operations.” http://bit.ly/ACCJC7-2-12Letter