Amended in Assembly April 14, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1397


Introduced by Assembly Member Ting

February 27, 2015


An act to addbegin delete Section 72216 toend deletebegin insert Article 8 (commencing with Section 72800) to Chapter 6 of Part 45 of Division 7 of Title 3 ofend insert the Education Code, relating to community colleges.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1397, as amended, Ting. Community colleges:begin delete accreditation.end deletebegin insert California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of 2015.end insert

Existing law establishes the California Community Colleges, under the administration of the Board of Governors of the California Community Colleges, as one of the segments of public postsecondary education in this state. Existing law specifies the duties of the board of governors, including, among other duties, establishing minimum standards for the formation of community colleges and districts. Under existing regulatory authority, the board of governors requires each community college to be accredited.begin insert Existing law requires the accrediting agency for the community colleges to report to the appropriate policy and budget subcommittees of the Legislature upon the issuance of a decision that affects the accreditation status of a community college and to report, on a biannual basis, any accreditation policy changes that affect the accreditation process or status for a community college.end insert

This bill wouldbegin delete require the accrediting agency for the community colleges to provide an opportunity for public comment before taking any action related to the accreditation status of a community college.end deletebegin insert enact the California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of 2015. The act would require that at least 50% of each visiting accreditation team from the accrediting agency for the California Community Colleges be composed of academics, as defined. The bill would prohibit persons with a conflict of interest, as defined, from serving on a visiting accreditation team.end insert

begin insert

The bill would require the accrediting agency to conduct the meetings of its decisionmaking body to ensure the ability of members of the public to attend those meetings. The bill would require the accrediting agency to preserve all documents generated during an accreditation-related review, as specified. The bill would require the agency’s accreditation-related decisions to be based on written, published standards in accordance with state and federal statutes and regulations, as specified.

end insert
begin insert

The bill would authorize an institution to file an appeal of a decision by the accrediting agency. The bill would provide that the appeal would be heard by a panel appointed by the Chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

end insert

Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: begin deleteno end deletebegin insertyesend insert. State-mandated local program: no.

The people of the State of California do enact as follows:

P2    1begin insert

begin insertSECTION 1.end insert  

end insert

begin insertArticle 8 (commencing with Section 72800) is
2added to Chapter 6 of Part 45 of Division 7 of Title 3 of the end insert
begin insert3Education Codeend insertbegin insert, to read:end insert

begin insert

4 

5Article begin insert8.end insert  Accreditation
6

 

7

begin insert72800.end insert  

(a) (1) This section shall be known, and may be cited,
8as the California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of
92015.

10(2) As used in this article:

11(A) “Academic” means a person who is currently, or has
12recently, directly engaged in a significant manner in postsecondary
13teaching or research.

14(B) “Agency” means the accrediting agency for the California
15Community Colleges.

16(C) “Near relative” means a spouse, including a registered
17domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, person in an in-law
P3    1relationship, or a step relative in one of the relationships
2referenced in this subparagraph.

3(b) (1) No less than 50 percent of each visiting accreditation
4team sent out by the agency shall be composed of academics.

5(2) No person may serve on a visiting accreditation team who
6has a conflict of interest. For the purposes of this paragraph, a
7conflict of interest is determined by any circumstance in which an
8individual’s capacity to make an impartial or unbiased
9accreditation recommendation may be affected by any of the
10following:

11(A) Prior, current, or anticipated affiliation with the institution
12under review.

13(B) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.

14(C) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
15member, staff member or consultant of the agency’s
16decisionmaking body.

17(D) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
18member, staff member or consultant of the institution’s governing
19body.

20(3) A prospective member of a visiting accreditation team shall
21submit an appropriate disclosure form to the agency, declaring
22under penalty of perjury that he or she does not violate the visiting
23team conflict-of-interest criteria in paragraph (2). Copies of these
24forms shall be provided to the institution under review.

25(4) Every member of the agency’s decisionmaking body and
26staff shall annually file a form that identifies all sources of earnings
27that derive from the field of education, or from entities that perform
28services for any community college located in California, or from
29organizations that engage in any lobbying or representational
30activities for California community colleges.

31(c) (1) The agency shall conduct its meetings so as to ensure
32that those members of the public who desire to appear at agency
33meetings have an opportunity to attend those meetings.

34(2) A sufficient length of time shall be allowed for public
35comment at agency meetings, and no agency action related to an
36institution’s accreditation shall be made prior to the
37decisionmaking body’s taking of public comment.

38(3) The agency shall make an accreditation decision by a vote
39of its decisionmaking body in a public meeting. The vote of each
40member of the decisionmaking body shall be recorded and posted
P4    1to the agency’s Internet Web site. Minutes from the meetings of
2the decisionmaking body of the agency shall be recorded and
3posted to the agency’s Internet Web site.

4(4) Any officer or employee of the agency with an actual or
5appearance of a conflict of interest shall be disqualified from
6participating in discussion and voting. For the purposes of this
7clause, a conflict of interest shall be defined as any of the
8following:

9(A) Prior, current, or anticipated affiliation with the institution
10under review.

11(B) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.

12(C) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
13member, staff member, or consultant of the institution’s governing
14body.

15(d) The agency shall preserve all documents generated during
16an accreditation-related review, including, but not necessarily
17limited to, email correspondence, for no less than 36 months after
18the completion of an accreditation-related review. All reports,
19evaluations, recommendations, and decision documents generated
20during an accreditation-related review shall be retained
21indefinitely.

22(e) (1) The agency’s accreditation-related decisions shall be
23based on written, published standards, and shall be in accordance
24with, and not be inconsistent with, state and federal statutes and
25regulations.

26(2) The agency shall afford appropriate deference to the
27activities or operations of the institution under review that are
28consistent with the requirements of the state law.

29(f) No revision shall be made by the agency to a proposed
30visiting accreditation team report unless the revision is shared
31with the members of the visiting accreditation team and with the
32institution under review, and each is afforded an opportunity to
33comment on the revision.

34(g) (1) A community college or a community college district
35shall be given advance notice of proposed visiting accreditation
36team reports, so that the college or district may respond to correct
37factual errors or dissent from conclusions. The institution under
38review shall be afforded adequate time to review the reports before
39a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body at which a decision
40relating to the institution’s accreditation is to be made, which shall
P5    1be no less than six weeks before the meeting. The institution under
2review may respond to these reports in writing, orally at the
3meeting, or in both of those ways.

4(2) Any visiting accrediting team recommendation for action
5shall be shared with the institution under review at least six weeks
6before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body, so that the
7institution may decide whether and how to respond to the
8recommendation. Any recommendation for action made to the
9agency’s decisionmaking body by a person employed by or
10representing the agency, including its staff, agents, and employees,
11shall be shared with the institution subject to the recommendation
12at least six weeks before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking
13body relating to the recommendation.

14(h) (1) The agency shall have a written policy, consistent with
15federal law, that does both of the following:

16(A) Identifies a period for an institution to correct any
17deficiencies that have prevented the institution from receiving full
18accreditation.

19 (B) Provides criteria for altering that period.

20(2) The policy adopted under paragraph (1) shall be published,
21and shall provide a process through which an institution may
22submit applications for an extension, even if a decision has
23expressly denied such an extension. An application for an
24extension, and the decision of the agency as to the application,
25shall be made publicly available.

26(i) Whenever the agency’s decisionmaking body issues a
27sanction of probation or a more serious sanction, the institution
28subject to the sanction shall be given written notice of the alleged
29sanctionable offenses or deficiencies. The institution shall be
30afforded an opportunity to submit an appeal of the decision to
31issue the sanction. The burden of proof for the agency to issue the
32sanction shall rest with the agency.

33(j) An appeal pursuant to subdivision (i) shall be heard by a
34panel appointed by the chancellor. An institution filing an appeal
35has the right to file an application to present new or additional
36evidence to the panel. The panel shall, in its discretion, determine
37whether to accept the new or additional evidence.

end insert
begin delete38

SECTION 1.  

Section 72216 is added to the Education Code,
39to read:

P6    1

72216.  

(a) The accrediting agency for the California
2Community Colleges shall provide an opportunity for public
3comment before taking any action related to the accreditation status
4of a community college.

5(b) This section does not affect the accreditation status of a
6community college on January 1, 2016.

7(c) This section does not apply to the accrediting agency’s
8activities that are related to private educational institutions in the
9state or educational institutions outside of the state.

10(d) This section does not affect the authority of the United States
11Department of Education regarding educational institutions.

12(e) The provisions of this section are severable. If any provision
13of this section or its application is held invalid, that invalidity shall
14not affect other provisions or applications that can be given effect
15without the invalid provision or application.

end delete


O

    98