COS fails important test — denied reaccreditation
Porterville College, Cerro Coso, Bakersfield — only three California schools reaffirmed
College of the Sequoias — Visalia’s community college — is in trouble, and only steps away from losing its accreditation and being forced to shut down. The community college failed to receive reaccreditation from the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges and was notified Wednesday it has until October to remediate its non-compliance issues.
“We’re going to work to save the college,” said Stan Carrizosa, College of the Sequoias President/Superintendent during a public meeting Thursday.
“This is the most extreme response we can get. I’m not going to over dramatize it. It is what it is. I can honestly say this is the worst thing that would ever confront College of the Sequoias.”
Carrizosa read a five-page letter he received from the Commission to staff and students who filled the Ponderosa Room auditorium during the meeting.
The letter, dated Feb. 11, talks about the evaluation team’s visit to the campus in October, and points out that the college failed to meet a number of eligibility requirements and accreditation standards.
John Corkins, Kern Community College District Board member — which governs Porterville College, Cerro Coso and Bakersfield Community College — called the situation unfortunate, but added that he is optimistic College of the Sequoias will pull through.
All three of the KCCD schools, including Porterville College, received reaccreditation Thursday.
“It’s getting tougher and tougher to get reaccredited,” Corkins said. “It’s definitely a difficult situation and very unfortunate. I don’t wish that on anyone. A lot of colleges had problems.”
The Accrediting Commission met Jan. 9 to 11 and took action on 56 institutions. Only eight colleges, five in Hawaii and three in California — Porterville, Cerro Coso and Bakersfield, all KCCD campuses — were reaffirmed.
COS and Northern Marianas College were ordered to “Show Cause” —meaning the schools are in substantial non-compliance with eligibility requirements, accreditation standards or commission policies, or when there has been no response to the conditions imposed by the commission. Other actions included a warning for El Camino, Columbia and Solano colleges; continued warning for Modesto Junior College and continued probation for Victor Valley College.
“It’s sad but I’m very optimistic,” Corkins said about the COS campus. “They’ll get through it and they’ll be OK.”
Corkins said he does not believe the campus will close.
“If anything, they’ll ask another district to come in. That’s what happened to Compton a few years ago,” Corkins said. “COS will make it. They just need to step up and do due diligence and get things under control.”
On Thursday, Carrizosa talked about moving forward, and of a plan to appoint a task force, break down the standards and begin a search for solutions.
He talked about getting assessment data revised and redirected and starting the process all over again. Time, however, is against them, he said, saying the commission will return in eight months, one year from the original visit.
“It’s already February. They’re going to come visit us in October. By August we need to be submitting a report. That leaves us three months — and then there’s summer. So we’re going to be under the gun. This is serious.”
Representatives of the task force will meet every two weeks, Carrizosa said, and report updates to the public.
“You can count 100 percent on us and the board,” Carrizosa said and then praised the faculty before ending the meeting. “We have a lot of work to do. The community is counting on us.”
Lindsay is in the COS district and the college just this year opened its new Tulare campus.
Contact Esther Avila at 784-5000, Ext. 1045. Follow her on Twitter @Avila_recorder.