Amended in Senate July 8, 2015

Amended in Assembly May 28, 2015

Amended in Assembly May 5, 2015

Amended in Assembly April 14, 2015

California Legislature—2015–16 Regular Session

Assembly BillNo. 1397


Introduced by Assemblybegin delete Member Tingend deletebegin insert Members Ting and Bontaend insert

(Coauthors: Assembly Members Gipson,begin insert Mullin,end insert Santiago, and Wagner)

begin delete

(Coauthor: Senator Hall)

end delete
begin insert

(Coauthors: Senators Beall, Hall, and Nielsen)

end insert

February 27, 2015


An act to add Article 8 (commencing with Section 72800) to Chapter 6 of Part 45 of Division 7 of Title 3 of the Education Code, relating to community colleges.

LEGISLATIVE COUNSEL’S DIGEST

AB 1397, as amended, Ting. Community colleges: California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of 2015.

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. 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.

This bill would enact the California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of 2015. The act would require that an appropriate percentage 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 conflicts of interest, as defined, from serving on a visiting accreditation team.

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.

The bill would authorize an institution to submit an appeal of a decision by the accrediting agency to subject that institution to a sanction of probation or a more serious sanction.begin insert The bill would require a member of a panel that would hear one of these appeals to file a specified disclosure form under penalty of perjury. By expanding the scope of the crime of perjury, this bill would impose a state-mandated local program.end insert

begin insert

The California Constitution requires the state to reimburse local agencies and school districts for certain costs mandated by the state. Statutory provisions establish procedures for making that reimbursement.

end insert
begin insert

This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.

end insert

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

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

P3    1

SECTION 1.  

Article 8 (commencing with Section 72800) is
2added to Chapter 6 of Part 45 of Division 7 of Title 3 of the 3Education Code, to read:

4 

5Article 8.  Accreditation
6

 

7

72800.  

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

10(b) The Legislature finds and declares all of the following:

11(1) The goal of accreditation is to promote and ensure higher
12education quality through peer evaluation and review.

13(2) The community college accrediting agency should be a
14nonprofit, private educational association of regional scope,
15responsible for developing evaluation criteria, conducting peer
16evaluations, assessing whether criteria are met, and supporting
17institutional development and improvement.

18(3) The community college accrediting agency should have a
19comprehensive and nondiscriminatory accreditation process that
20is in compliance with the requirements of applicable federal and
21state laws and regulations.

22(c) This article shall apply only to accrediting procedures
23regarding institutions located in California.

24

72801.  

(a) As used in this article:

25(1) “Academic” means a person who is currently, or has recently,
26directly engaged in a significant manner in postsecondary teaching
27or research.

28(2) “Agency” means the accrediting agency for the California
29Community Colleges.

30(3) “Near relative” means a spouse, including a registered
31domestic partner, child, parent, sibling, person in an in-law
32relationship, or a step relative in one of the relationships referenced
33in this subparagraph.

34(b) The agency shall operate only by policies that are in
35compliance with the federal criteria for recognition of an
36accrediting agency pursuant to Subpart 2 (commencing with
37Section 496) of Part H of Title IV of the federal Higher Education
38Act of 1965, as amended.

P4    1(c) (1) Each visiting accreditation team sent out by the agency
2shall be composed of an appropriate percentage of academics.

3(2) The agency shall establish and enforce procedures to ensure
4that persons serving on visiting accreditation teams do not have
5conflicts of interest. No person may serve on a visiting
6accreditation team who has a conflict of interest. For the purposes
7of this paragraph, a conflict of interest is determined by any
8circumstance in which an individual’s capacity to make an
9impartial or unbiased accreditation recommendation may be
10affected, including, but not necessarily limited to, any of the
11following:

12(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.

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

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

begin insert

19(D) Candidacy for employment at the institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

20(E) A written agreement with an institution that may create a
21conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest with the
22institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

23(F) Having a personal or financial interest in the ownership or
24operation of the institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

25(G) Receipt of honoraria, honors, or awards from the institution
26being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

27(H) Other personal or professional connections that would
28create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of
29interest.

end insert

30(3) A prospective member of a visiting accreditation team shall
31submit an appropriate disclosure form to the agency, declaring
32that he or she does not violate the visiting team conflict-of-interest
33criteria in paragraph (2). Copies of these forms shall be provided
34to the institution under review.

35(d) (1) The agency shall conduct its meetings so as to ensure
36that those members of the public who desire to appear at open
37sessions of agency meetings have an opportunity to attend those
38 portions of the meetings.

39(2) A sufficient length of time shall be allowed for public
40comment at agency meetings, and no agency action related to an
P5    1institution’s accreditation shall be made prior to the decisionmaking
2body’s taking of public comment.

3(3) The agency shall make an accreditation decision by a vote
4of its decisionmaking body. The outcome of the vote shall be
5recorded and posted to the agency’s Internet Web site. Minutes
6from all open session portions of the meetings of the
7decisionmaking body of the agency shall be recorded and posted
8to the agency’s Internet Web site.

9(4) Anybegin delete officer or employeeend deletebegin insert officer, employee, representative,
10or consultantend insert
of the agency with an actual or appearance of a
11conflict of interest shall be disqualified from participating in
12discussion and voting. For purposes of this clause, a conflict of
13interest is defined as any circumstance in which an individual’s
14capacity to make an impartial or unbiased recommendation or
15decision may be affected, including bybegin delete eitherend deletebegin insert anyend insert of the following:

16(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.

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

begin insert

20(C) Having served on the most recent evaluation team of an
21institution being considered.

end insert
begin insert

22(D) Candidacy for employment at the institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

23(E) A written agreement with an institution that may create a
24conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest with the
25institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

26(F) Having a personal or financial interest in the ownership or
27operation of the institution being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

28(G) Receipt of honoraria, honors, or awards from the institution
29being evaluated.

end insert
begin insert

30(H) Other personal or professional connections that would
31create a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of
32interest.

end insert
begin insert

33(I) Any other relationship that would impede an individual’s
34objectivity.

end insert

35(e) The agency shall preserve all documents generated during
36an accreditation-related review, including, but not necessarily
37limited to, email correspondence, for no less than 36 months after
38the completion of an accreditation-related review. All reports,
39evaluations, recommendations, and decision documents generated
40during an accreditation-related review shall be retained indefinitely.

P6    1(f) The agency’s accreditation-related decisions shall be based
2on written, published standards, and shall be in accordance with,
3and not be inconsistent with, state and federal statutes and
4regulations.

5(g) No revision shall be made by the agency to a proposed
6visiting accreditation team report unless the revision is shared with
7 the members of the visiting accreditation team and with the
8institution under review, and each is afforded an opportunity to
9comment on the revision.

10(h) (1) A community college or a community college district
11shall be given advance notice of proposed visiting accreditation
12team reports, so that the college or district may respond to correct
13factual errors or dissent from conclusions. The institution under
14review shall be afforded adequate time to review the reports before
15a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body at which a decision
16relating to the institution’s accreditation is to be made, which shall
17be no less than six weeks before the meeting. The institution under
18review may respond to these reports in writing, orally at the
19meeting, or in both of those ways.

20(2) Any visiting accrediting team recommendation for action
21shall be shared with the institution under review at least six weeks
22before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body, so that the
23institution may decide whether and how to respond to the
24recommendation. Any recommendation for action made to the
25agency’s decisionmaking body by a person employed by or
26representing the agency, including its staff, agents, and employees,
27shall be shared with the institution subject to the recommendation
28at least six weeks before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking
29body relating to the recommendation.

30(i) (1) The agency shall have a written policy, consistent with
31federal law, that does both of the following:

32(A) Identifies a period for an institution to correct any
33deficiencies that have prevented the institution from receiving full
34accreditation.

35 (B) Provides criteria for altering that period.

36(2) The policy adopted under paragraph (1) shall be published,
37and shall provide a process through which an institution may
38submit applications for an extension, even if a decision has
39expressly denied such an extension. An application for an
P7    1extension, and the decision of the agency as to the application,
2shall be made publicly available.

3(j) (1) Whenever the agency’s decisionmaking body issues a
4sanction of probation or a more serious sanction, the institution
5subject to the sanction shall be given written notice of the alleged
6sanctionable offenses or deficiencies. The institution shall be
7afforded an opportunity to submit an appeal of the decision to issue
8the sanction.

9(2) A member of an appeal panel with an actual conflict of
10interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, shall be
11disqualified from participating in an appeal submitted pursuant to
12paragraph (1). For purposes of this paragraph, a conflict of interest
13shall be defined as any circumstance in which an individual’s
14capacity to make an impartial or unbiased recommendation or
15decision may be affected, including by any of the following:

16(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.

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

20(C) Having voted or had the opportunity to vote, as a member
21of the agency’s decisionmaking body, on the sanction being
22appealed.

23(D) Having servedbegin delete as a member of the visiting accreditation
24team which submitted the recommendation for the sanctionend delete
begin insert on any
25team, review committee, or body on behalf of the commission that
26was involved with the action of the commissionend insert
being appealed.

begin insert

27(E) Current service on the commission.

end insert

28(3) A prospective member of an appeal panel shall submit an
29appropriate disclosurebegin delete formend deletebegin insert form, signed under penalty of perjury,end insert
30 to the agency, declaring that he or she does not violate the
31conflict-of-interest criteria listed in subparagraphs (A) to (D),
32inclusive, of paragraph (2). Copies of these forms shall be provided
33to the institution that is making the appeal.

34begin insert

begin insertSEC. 2.end insert  

end insert
begin insert

No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
35Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
36the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
37district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
38 infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
39for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
40the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
P8    1the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California
2Constitution.

end insert


O

    95