Karnow’s injunction means the school can actively recruit students knowing that a July 31, 2014 deadline is no longer in place.
The judge denied a similar motion filed by the teachers’ union on largely technical grounds. But that doesn’t matter — it only takes one injunction to keep City College open.
Herrera’s lawsuit charges that the ACCJC’s review process was plagued by conflicts of interest, political agendas, and dubious procedures that even the federal government agrees were a problem.
During court hearings, Karnow asked why an injunction was needed if the case could be scheduled for trial by June. Deputy City Attorney Sara Eisenberg made it clear that a June trial — with a final outcome, no post-trial motions, appeals etc. — was highly unlikely, given the complexity of the case and the fact that the ACCJC was already dragging its feet on responding to discovery motions.
In his ruling, Karnow agreed, saying that the city would be damaged by any effort to close City College.
He also agreed that Herrera’s office has a good chance of winning a trial. That’s necessary for an injunction, and his consideration of the facts of the case should provide hope to City College supporters.
It should also be a warning to the ACCJC: If the agency continues to pursue what Herrera calls a politically motivated effort to shut down one of the best community colleges in the state, it may not only lose in court but face severe political fallout. A jury trial that finds ACCJC intentionally broke the rules to promote a right-wing political agenda would force the state to impose more rules on the private agency.
That’s something Herrera supports: “The state has to have some oversight to ensure that the open-admission process that the Legislature has approved is protected,” he said at a press conference this evening.
I asked Herrera if the Mayor’s Office was helpful in the suit, and he was exceptionally polite, telling us that he had met with Ed Lee’s folks and “educated them” on the role he was playing. That’s politics. That’s what he has to say. The truth is that the mayor has never once publicly supported the elected college board; has never made a single statement endorsing or acknowledging Herrera’s well-founded allegations; and has, in fact, sided with the folks who want to change the mission of City College.
So now we move forward to a court case that could expose the not-so-hidden agenda of the ACCJC and its backers. Or Herrera forces that agency to back off, withdraw the order that would shut down City College, and start following the rules that the feds have set.
There are more than legal issues here; the future of community college education in the United States will play out in a San Francisco courtroom sometime this summer. Or else the ACCJC will decide to avoid a battle that could go all the way to the US Secretary of Education and the Obama Administration, and just fold its tent.
Either way, Herrera has done an immense public service.