New sta­tus for Comp­ton Col­lege

Cam­pus is granted ini­tial ac­cred­i­ta­tion, more than a decade af­ter its sta­tus was re­voked amid scan­dal

Los Angeles Times - - CALIFORNIA - By Rosanna Xia rosanna.xia@la­times.com Twit­ter: @Rosan­naXia

Cam­pus is re-granted ini­tial ac­cred­i­ta­tion more than a decade af­ter it was mired in a cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

Comp­ton Col­lege, which lost its ac­cred­i­ta­tion more than a decade ago dur­ing a time of se­ri­ous ad­min­is­tra­tive fail­ure and wide­spread cor­rup­tion, has been granted ini­tial ac­cred­i­ta­tion sta­tus and is one step away from win­ning back full stand­ing.

In a meet­ing late Wednesday, the Ac­cred­it­ing Com­mis­sion for Community and Ju­nior Col­leges re­viewed re­cent eval­u­a­tions and agreed to the ini­tial sta­tus — a ma­jor ac­knowl­edg­ment of the col­lege’s ef­forts to re­build.

“On be­half of the com­mis­sion, I wish to ex­press our ap­pre­ci­a­tion for the sig­nif­i­cant scope and qual­ity of work that Comp­ton Col­lege un­der­took,” Richard Winn, the com­mis­sion’s in­terim pres­i­dent, wrote in a let­ter to Comp­ton Col­lege lead­ers.

Comp­ton’s trou­bles be­gan to draw se­ri­ous pub­lic at­ten­tion in May 2004 when the state — in a rare ac­tion — took over the col­lege in an ef­fort to re­store it to fi­nan­cial sol­vency.

The takeover fol­lowed an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the state chan­cel­lor’s of­fice amid con­cerns about the school’s ac­count­ing prac­tices. Fed­eral and lo­cal author­i­ties were in­ves­ti­gat­ing pos­si­ble cor­rup­tion.

The col­lege’s ac­cred­i­ta­tion was re­voked in 2005, and state leg­is­la­tors also stripped the board of trus­tees of its power. In 2006, Comp­ton be­came a satel­lite cam­pus of El Camino Col­lege in Tor­rance.

Over the years, trus­tees have worked to re­gain their in­flu­ence and over­sight re­spon­si­bil­i­ties. In Fe­bru­ary, the board won back the au­thor­ity to gov­ern it­self.

The ac­cred­it­ing com­mis­sion vis­ited in March to eval­u­ate the cam­pus. In its re­port, the eval­u­a­tion team com­mended the part­ner­ship with the El Camino dis­trict as well as the level of student en­gage­ment in cam­pus ini­tia­tives and the par­tic­i­pa­tory gov­er­nance process.

State and lo­cal of­fi­cials are cel­e­brat­ing the ini­tial ac­cred­i­ta­tion as the end of a dif­fi­cult era for the community of Comp­ton and the Cal­i­for­nia Community Col­leges. The col­lege sys­tem is the largest in the coun­try, with 114 col­leges serv­ing 2.1 mil­lion stu­dents each year.

“This is an ex­tra­or­di­nary ac­com­plish­ment and joy­ous mo­ment,” said Ce­cilia V. Es­tolano, pres­i­dent of the Cal­i­for­nia Community Col­leges Board of Gov­er­nors. “The ac­cred­i­ta­tion com­mis­sion rec­og­nized the re­mark­able progress on the part of fac­ulty, staff, ad­min­is­tra­tors, stu­dents and community lead­ers.”

The Comp­ton dis­trict cov­ers about 29 square miles, serv­ing res­i­dents of Comp­ton, Lyn­wood, Para­mount and Wil­low­brook, as well as por­tions of sur­round­ing neigh­bor­hoods. Since it was founded in 1927, it has ed­u­cated gen­er­a­tions of stu­dents and be­come a community point of pride. Comp­ton has been re­ferred to as Cal­i­for­nia’s his­tor­i­cally black col­lege, and the city’s mayor, Aja Brown, has spo­ken about how her mother re­ceived her nurs­ing cre­den­tial there.

With this week’s de­ci­sion, Keith Curry, provost of the El Camino Comp­ton satel­lite cam­pus and the Comp­ton Community Col­lege Dis­trict chief ex­ec­u­tive, be­comes pres­i­dent of Comp­ton Col­lege — the first of many changes, school of­fi­cials said. Curry and lead­ers of El Camino Col­lege are de­vel­op­ing a tran­si­tion plan to make Comp­ton Col­lege an in­de­pen­dent school again. The col­lege also must sub­mit a special re­port to the ac­cred­it­ing com­mis­sion within a year.

“Thank you to all of our community lead­ers — at the fed­eral, state and lo­cal lev­els — for your stead­fast sup­port,” Curry said. “We look for­ward to con­tin­u­ing to pro­vide com­pre­hen­sive ed­u­ca­tional pro­grams and sup­port ser­vices to our di­verse com­mu­ni­ties.”

Anne Cu­sack Los An­ge­les Times

NURS­ING STU­DENTS Mon­ica Lanco and Fer­nando Gomez study in the li­brary at Comp­ton Col­lege, which be­gan op­er­at­ing as a satel­lite cam­pus of El Camino Col­lege in Tor­rance af­ter a 2004 cor­rup­tion scan­dal.

Glenn Koenig Los An­ge­les Times

KEITH CURRY, the cam­pus’ provost, is de­vel­op­ing a plan to make Comp­ton Col­lege in­de­pen­dent again.

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