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
begin delete theend delete 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. begin delete 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 delete
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. 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.
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.
This bill would provide that no reimbursement is required by this act for a specified reason.
Vote: majority. Appropriation: no. Fiscal committee: yes. State-mandated local program: yes.
The people of the State of California do enact as follows:
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:
(a) This article shall be known, and may be cited, as
8the California Community Colleges Fair Accreditation Act of
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.
(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
28(2) “Agency” means the accrediting agency for the California
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.
agency shall operate only by policies that are in
35compliance with the federal criteria for recognition of an
P4 1accrediting agency pursuant to Subpart 2 (commencing with
2Section 496) of Part H of Title IV of the federal Higher Education
3Act of 1965, as amended.
7(c) (1) Each visiting accreditation team sent out by the agency
8shall be composed of an appropriate percentage of academics.
9(2) The agency shall establish and
enforce procedures to ensure
10that persons serving on visiting accreditation teams do not have
11conflicts of interest. No person may serve on a visiting
12accreditation team who has a conflict of interest. For the purposes
13of this paragraph, a conflict of interest is determined by any
14circumstance in which an individual’s capacity to make an
15impartial or unbiased accreditation recommendation may be
16affected, including, but not necessarily limited to, any of the
18(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.
19(B) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
20member, staff member, or consultant of the agency’s
22(C) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as,
23member, staff member, or consultant of the institution’s governing
25(D) Candidacy for employment at the institution being evaluated.
26(E) A written agreement with an institution that may create a
27conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest with the
28institution being evaluated.
29(F) Having a personal or financial interest in the ownership or
30operation of the institution being evaluated.
31(G) Receipt of honoraria, honors, or awards from the institution
33(H) Other personal or professional connections that would create
34a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
35(3) A prospective member of a visiting accreditation team shall
36submit an appropriate disclosure form to the agency, declaring
37that he or she does not violate the visiting team conflict-of-interest
38criteria in paragraph (2). Copies of these forms shall be provided
39to the institution under review.
P5 1(d) (1) The agency shall conduct
begin delete its meetingsend delete so as to ensure that those members of the
3public who desire to appear at open sessions of
begin delete agencyend delete
4 meetings have an opportunity to attend those portions of the
15(2) A sufficient length of time shall be allowed for public
begin delete agency meetings,end delete and no agency action related to an
18institution’s accreditation shall be made prior to the decisionmaking
19body’s taking of public comment.
20(3) The agency shall make an accreditation decision by a vote
21of its decisionmaking body. The outcome of the vote shall be
22recorded and posted to the agency’s Internet Web site. Minutes
23from all open session portions of the meetings of the
24decisionmaking body of the agency shall be recorded and posted
25to the agency’s Internet Web site.
26(4) Any officer, employee, representative, or consultant of the
27agency with an actual or appearance of a conflict of interest shall
28be disqualified from participating in discussion and
begin delete voting.end delete For purposes of this clause,
30a conflict of interest is defined as any circumstance in which an
31individual’s capacity to make an impartial or unbiased
32recommendation or decision may be affected, including by any of
34(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.
35(B) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
36member, staff member, or consultant of the institution’s governing
38(C) Having served on the most recent evaluation team of an
39institution being considered.
40(D) Candidacy for employment at the institution being evaluated.
P6 1(E) A written agreement with an institution that may create a
2conflict of interest or appearance of a conflict of interest with the
3institution being evaluated.
4(F) Having a personal or financial interest in the ownership or
5operation of the institution being evaluated.
6(G) Receipt of honoraria, honors, or awards from the institution
8(H) Other personal or professional connections that would create
9a conflict of interest or the appearance of a conflict of interest.
10(I) Any other relationship that would impede an individual’s
12(e) The agency shall preserve all documents generated during
13an accreditation-related review, including, but not necessarily
14limited to, email correspondence, for no less than 36 months after
15the completion of an accreditation-related review. All reports,
16evaluations, recommendations, and decision documents generated
17during an accreditation-related review shall be retained
begin delete indefinitely.end delete
21(f) The agency’s accreditation-related decisions shall be based
22on written, published standards, and shall be in accordance with,
23and not be inconsistent with, state and federal statutes and
26 No revision shall be made by the agency to a proposed
27visiting accreditation team report unless the revision is shared with
28 the members of the visiting accreditation team and with the
29institution under review, and each is afforded an opportunity to
30comment on the revision.
32 (1) A community college or a community college district
33shall be given advance notice of proposed visiting accreditation
34team reports, so that the college or district may respond to correct
35factual errors or dissent from conclusions. The institution under
36review shall be afforded adequate time to review the reports before
37a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body at which a decision
38relating to the institution’s accreditation is to be made, which shall
39be no less than six weeks before the meeting. The institution under
P7 1review may respond to these reports in writing, orally at the
2meeting, or in both of those ways.
3(2) Any visiting accrediting team recommendation for action
4shall be shared with the institution under review at least six weeks
5before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking body, so that the
6institution may decide whether and how to respond to the
7recommendation. Any recommendation for action made to the
8agency’s decisionmaking body by a person employed by or
9representing the agency, including its staff, agents, and employees,
10shall be shared with the institution subject to the recommendation
11at least six weeks before a meeting of the agency’s decisionmaking
12body relating to the recommendation.
26(i) (1) The agency shall have a written policy, consistent with
27federal law, that does both of the following:
28(A) Identifies a period for an institution to correct any
29deficiencies that have prevented the institution from receiving full
31 (B) Provides criteria for altering that period.
32(2) The policy adopted under paragraph (1) shall be published,
33and shall provide a process through which an institution may
34submit applications for an extension, even if a decision has
35expressly denied such an extension. An application for an
36extension, and the decision of the agency as to the application,
37shall be made publicly available.
38(j) (1) Whenever the agency’s decisionmaking body issues a
39sanction of probation or a more serious sanction, the institution
40subject to the sanction shall be given written notice of the alleged
P8 1sanctionable offenses or deficiencies. The institution shall be
2afforded an opportunity to submit an appeal of the decision to issue
4(2) A member of an appeal panel with an actual conflict of
5interest, or the appearance of a conflict of interest, shall be
6disqualified from participating in an appeal submitted pursuant to
7paragraph (1). For purposes of this paragraph, a conflict of interest
8shall be defined as any circumstance in which an individual’s
9capacity to make an impartial or unbiased recommendation or
10decision may be affected, including by any of the following:
11(A) Paid service in any capacity to the institution under review.
12(B) Serving as, or having a near relative serving as, a current
13member, staff member, or consultant of the institution’s governing
15(C) Having voted or had the opportunity to vote, as a member
16of the agency’s decisionmaking body, on the sanction being
18(D) Having served on any team, review committee, or body on
19behalf of the commission that was involved with the action of the
20commission being appealed.
21(E) Current service on the commission.
22(3) A prospective member of an appeal panel shall submit an
23appropriate disclosure form, signed under penalty of perjury, to
24the agency, declaring that he or she does not violate the
25conflict-of-interest criteria listed in subparagraphs (A) to (D),
26inclusive, of paragraph (2). Copies of these forms shall be provided
27to the institution that is making the appeal.
No reimbursement is required by this act pursuant to
33Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California Constitution because
34the only costs that may be incurred by a local agency or school
35district will be incurred because this act creates a new crime or
36infraction, eliminates a crime or infraction, or changes the penalty
37for a crime or infraction, within the meaning of Section 17556 of
38the Government Code, or changes the definition of a crime within
P9 1the meaning of Section 6 of Article XIII B of the California