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Compton College ready to resume local control

COMPTON — The Compton Community College District, which has been managed by a state-appointed special trustee since it lost its accreditation more than a decade ago, has won back the authority to govern itself, state authorities announced Feb. 14.

The college now will be run once again by its own elected board of trustees.

“Returning control of Compton Community College District to the elected board of trustees has been a top priority of ours,” said Cecilia V. Estolano, president of the California Community Colleges Board of Governors.

“We will do everything in our power to help Compton achieve that next milestone of accreditation and full independence.”

State legislators stripped the board of its power after the discovery of serious administrative failure and widespread corruption on campus. In 2006, the college became a satellite campus of Torrance’s El Camino College.

A state Assembly bill laid out the scenario by which Compton College could once again be run by its own board after the governor, the director of the state Department of Finance and the state chancellor agreed that the district had met a comprehensive list of requirements for two straight years, the Los Angeles Times reported.

But even with control reverting back to the board, the state-appointed trustee will stay on to assist, with the power to take that control away again, officials told The Times.

“This is a sign of remarkable progress and we congratulate faculty, staff, administrators, students and the community on the hard work that has led to this,” said California Community Colleges Chancellor Eloy Ortiz Oakley.

“It is an important step toward the ultimate goal of seeing that Compton College once again operate as an accredited institution under the sole control of Compton Community College District.”

“The Compton Community College District Board of Trustees is very pleased to receive concurrence from the special trustee, state chancellor, Governor’s Office, and the Department of Finance regarding the return of our local authority,” said Andres Ramos, president of the Compton Community College District Board of Trustees.“Our commitment to represent the interests of the communities we serve will continue to be a priority as we continue moving forward.”

“The El Camino Community College District is fully committed to continuing its partnership with the Compton Community College District, to ensure that accredited programs and services are available to the residents of the Compton district,” said Kenneth Brown, president of the El Camino Community College District Board of Trustees. “The return of local authority is an important milestone in the path to accreditation of an independent college in the Compton Community College District.”

The Compton Community College District encompasses about 29 square miles, making educational services available to residents of Compton, Lynwood, Paramount and Willowbrook, as well as portions of Athens, Bellflower, Carson, Downey, Dominguez, Lakewood, Long Beach and South Gate.

The next steps include a four-step process to achieve accreditation and full independence, which officials say could come as early as 2020.

The El Camino College District recently submitted a comprehensive institutional self-evaluation report to the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) for Compton College.

A visit from the ACCJC comprehensive evaluation team is scheduled for March 6-9.

“We are very proud of the numerous accomplishments at Compton Center,” said El Camino College President Dena P. Maloney. “We look forward to continued progress as we work together to return an accredited, stand-alone college to the Compton Community College District.”

The ACCJC will consider the self-evaluation report and application for accreditation candidacy at its June meeting. Based on the process established by the commission, once candidacy is granted, the Compton Center must remain in compliance with the standards of accreditation during a two-year candidacy period. The next step after being granted candidacy is to apply for initial accreditation.

“It is a significant time of growth and transformation for the ECC Compton Center,” said Keith Curry, provost of El Camino College Compton Center. “I want to thank all of you who believe in El Camino College Compton Center and Compton Community College District, and who have worked tirelessly to move the process to accreditation efforts forward.”

Compton College’s troubled history began to draw major attention in May 2004, when the state 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 investigations were looking into possible corruption.

By June 2005, the accrediting commission had begun the process of revoking the college’s accreditation. In October that year, a former Compton College trustee pleaded guilty to siphoning more than $1 million in public funds to himself and his family members via a dummy organization that enrolled people in sham college courses, according to The Times.

 

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