A letter delivered from the Accrediting Commission for Community Colleges and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) to Santa Barbara City College on February 6 has initiated the next chapter in the roiling dissension at the bucolic institution of higher learning overlooking the harbor. No member of the public knows exactly what is contained in the contents of said letter, but critics of the current Board of Trustees, including former trustee Desmond O’Neill, want to know.

“It’s my contention that this document is not confidential,” Desmond O’Neill told The Santa Barbara Independent. “The public has a right to know [its content], and for an outfit that claims transparency, they are not acting transparently.”

The outfit that O’Neill refers to is the current board, which swept all of the incumbents in last year’s election. Upon installation, the new trustees summarily arranged the ouster of President Andreea Serban, after which a group of Serban apologists formed an organization called Take Back SBCC and sent a 16-page letter to the ACCJC on June 28 alleging “violations of Title 5 and California Education Code requirements, violation of several ACCJC accreditation standards and violation of District policies,” and requesting an emergency visit.

The ACCJC obliged, sending a delegation to SBCC on November 9 and 10, 2011. The letter that O’Neill would like disclosed details the findings of the ACCJC resulting from their visit. “I’m pretty sure, given what the investigative team from ACJCC was asking about when they were here, is the Board of Trustee’s interfering with administration,” said O’Neill.

SBCC administration would not comment, but it did release a statement explaining that, “The ACCJC’s Policy on Public Disclosure provides in part, ‘The Commission and the institution should maintain appropriate levels of confidentiality during the various stages of the accreditation process that lead to the Commission’s decision. The accreditation process must occur within a context of trust and confidentiality if it is to result in an accurate appraisal of institutional quality.’”

“Once the Commission renders a decision,” the statement reads, “its report and findings will be made public.”

SBCC’s attorney, Craig Price, could not be reached because he is currently at a trial in San Antonio, Texas.


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