Accrediting commission slammed by state auditor

Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella.

State auditor Elaine Howle slammed the accreditation commission responsible for the controversial shutdown of City College of San Francisco. She said the commission—on which Gavilan College President Steve Kinsella serves as vice president—lacks transparency and consistency.
Howle’s report states that the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, Western Association of Schools and Colleges—the only body authorized to accredit California community colleges—deliberates hidden from public scrutiny.
Thirty-eight percent of college executives surveyed by the auditors agreed the process should be more transparent, according to the report.
The ACCJC inconsistently applied its accreditation process, according to the report, giving City College only one year to comply with its requirements while it gave 21 colleges at least two years to resolve issues.
In a formal response to the final report, ACCJC President Barbara Beno called the audit “factually inaccurate,” “incomplete” and questioned the expertise of the auditors who worked on the project.
“Audit standards require auditors to have independence and technical competence to conduct an audit prior to conducting an audit,” Beno’s letter reads. “The report demonstrates that these audit standards were not met. There is no indication from the report that any of the members of the team had the experience or competence to express opinions regarding matters of accreditation.”
But some, including Executive Director Jonathan Lightman of the Faculty Association of California Community Colleges, said the report simply validated their concerns about the entire accreditation process.
“The report confirmed what thousands of faculty and others in the community college system have long known about the manner in which ACCJC has implemented the accreditation process,” Lightman said. “What should be relatively straightforward has become a convoluted entanglement of lawsuits and legislation, all because of an apparent lack of due process, transparency and consistency.”
The audit found that the commission sanctions California community colleges more frequently than the nation’s other six regional accrediting bodies do across the United States. The ACCJC had a sanction rate of 54.5 percent, while the other accreditors sanctioned 12.4 percent of the time, the report reads.
Lightman said it’s up to the state representatives to develop appropriate legislation. However, amendments to a bill that would have afforded public participation in all meetings concerning a college’s accreditation were taken out of the document in the State Senate on July 1.
The bill, AB 1942, is scheduled to go to the California Appropriations Committee for further discussion.
About Steve Kinsella
Kinsella has the heftiest payout of any other employee at Gavilan College, reaping an annual salary topping $308,000. The college president’s name made local headlines in 2013, when he took medical leave and his replacement received $20,000 for one month of work, according to past reports.

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