House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi Monday visited a City College of San Francisco campus to express support for the embattled school and to encourage potential students to sign up for classes during the open enrollment period currently under way.
Pelosi, who was City College's commencement speaker in 2011, appeared Monday morning at the school's Chinatown/North Beach campus.
The school is facing the possible loss of its accreditation because of a decision last July by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, which found that the school had failed to adequately implement needed reforms.
Pelosi questioned the ACCJC's ruling and said students should continue to sign up for classes while the school's appeal process is under way and while two lawsuits accusing the commission of malfeasance work their way through the courts.
A San Francisco Superior Court judge last week approved a preliminary injunction sought by the city attorney's office that will prevent the commission's ruling from taking effect until a trial is held on whether City College was given proper due process in its accreditation case.
Pelosi said, "There has never been a complaint about the education at this school."
She said the ACCJC's threat to close the school has turned into a "self-fulfilling prophecy," with student enrollment down by more than 20 percent since last spring because of the closure fears.
City College has an open enrollment period running through Wednesday, and Pelosi said "we hope in the next few days we can intensify that sign-up."
She said she and other members of Congress are also considering subjecting the ACCJC to higher levels of scrutiny, although she declined to get into specifics.
"What happened here is highly unusual," Pelosi said. "It's not something that will be ignored."
She said, "It just isn't responsible."
Supporters of the school, among other complaints, say the commission mishandled City College's accreditation evaluation.
Along with the city attorney, two teachers' unions have also filed a lawsuit against the ACCJC.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors president David Chiu was with Pelosi during Monday's visit and said he was happy to join her in supporting City College.
"It's so important for this institution to continue," Chiu said. "Future generations of San Francisco rest on this."
Supervisor Norman Yee, whose district includes City College's main campus, said he was once a student at the school, and taught there for 10 years.
"I know firsthand what it means to the community," Yee said. "If it wasn't for City College, I wouldn't be here."
Community members, including Jenny Lam from the group Chinese for Affirmative Action, are calling on Gov. Jerry Brown to include emergency funds to help City College in his upcoming proposed budget.
"It's our right for the college to have a fair chance," Lam said, adding that the school is losing tens of millions of dollars in the coming fiscal year because of the reduced student enrollment.
Updates on City College's fight to stay accredited can be found online at www.ccsfforward.com, a website set up by the school and the California Community Colleges chancellor's office.