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Trustees reject Patterson's ideas

Coast board decides it must review all its outdated policies before February deadline or risk colleges' accreditation.

October 31, 2013|By Hannah Fry

In a heated special meeting of the Coast Community College District trustees Wednesday, the board struck down trustee Jerry Patterson's recommendations outlining how the district should remedy issues that have placed its three colleges at risk of losing accreditation.

The board called the special meeting so that Patterson could present his ideas, said Board President Lorraine Prinsky.

The board voted 4 to 1 against his recommendations, with trustee Jim Moreno absent.

The district is in the middle of an accreditation process to determine whether its campuses meet requirements for the stamp of educational quality that ensures students can transition to four-year universities.

Coast's three colleges — Orange Coast in Costa Mesa, Golden West in Huntington Beach and Coastline, which has campuses in several locations, including Newport Beach — each received warnings in July about practices they must change or risk losing their accreditation. The warning was issued by the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC).

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The district also received recommendations from ACCJC, which include urging the board to follow its own policies regarding delegation of authority to the chancellor and college presidents, establishing a process for self-evaluation and revising outdated board policies.

During the special meeting, board members took issue with Patterson's suggested approach to updating board policies.

He contends that district policy states that the board must review policies and procedures every four years. He said following that policy should be enough to maintain accreditation.

However, other trustees, including David Grant, said the board must review all of its outdated policies before its February deadline to respond to the accrediting commission.

"We have to change district policies to achieve accreditation," he said. "There's no way we can take chances to go against it."

Andreea Serban, vice chancellor of educational services and technology, explained that only 15% of the board's policies have been revised in the last four years.

"Some policies haven't been reviewed since the '80s and '90s," she said.

In 2007 and 2008 the district did not employ a full-time vice chancellor of educational services, and therefore there was no one to make sure the process wasn't overlooked, Prinsky said.

"We have to rely on our staff to coordinate it," she said. "Until we hired [Serban] we didn't have anyone in there on a full-time basis."

The board reviewed 24 of its policies during its last meeting and plans to review 150 more during its next meeting.

Patterson argued that it is difficult to keep up to date when looking at so many policies at one time.

"We've seen so many versions it's impossible to stay up with it," he said.

Prinsky said the district has been working diligently to update all of its policies before February.

"Some of our policies are not consistent with current law," she said. "We can't send the accrediting commission policies that are not compliant."

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