Representatives from the body that oversees accreditation for community colleges in California visited the Coast Community College District's three campuses last week to track the district's progress.
Every six years, the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) evaluates colleges' compliance with regulations that govern what they must do to be accredited, which is somewhat of a stamp of educational quality that allows students to transfer to four-year universities and affects the type of funding that colleges are eligible to receive.
The accrediting commission visited the district's three colleges — Orange Coast in Costa Mesa, Golden West in Huntington Beach and Coastline, which has campuses in various locations including Newport Beach — last spring and issued a warning to the district in July.
Since then, the colleges and district officials have been working diligently to update policies and look into practices to ensure accreditation, said trustee David Grant.
"Those recommendations enabled us to make the changes that we needed to make," Grant said during a special meeting last week. "I'm not sure it could have been done without it. We fully intend to be exemplary in board responsibility from now on."
Each of the colleges submitted remedies for specific deficiencies that the commission identified in a March report to the accreditation commission.
In the report, the district also highlighted more than 300 policies the board has updated at the request of the commission and vowed to delegate more authority to the chancellor to avoid overlapping duties.
Coast's board and the commission representatives reviewed the district's report in a special meeting last week.
While the district was praised for its progress, ACCJC representative Jeanette Mann pointed out that Coast wasn't exactly forthcoming in the letter to commission — stating the board said all old district policies had been updated when they hadn't.
"I feel morally obligated to say that you have not completed the review of your policies," Mann said. "There's a discrepancy there. We're here to validate what it says in the report, and that's one thing not in good faith."
Of the several hundred policies that trustees were asked to update over the past several months, 60 have not been finalized because they required negotiations with staff unions, which take a significant amount of time, said Andreea Serban, vice chancellor of educational services and technology.
The district vowed to complete the review of its policies by June.
The accreditation team in the coming months will work on revised recommendations, which will be presented to the commission in July. At that point, ACCJC will either remove the warning or issue further penalties, said district spokeswoman Martha Parham.