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State Accrediting Commission Visits SBCC to Investigate Allegations Against Trustees

After letter from oversight body was sent this summer, investigators appear on campus for interviews with trustees, staff

SBCC was visited last week by a state accrediting committee examining the college’s Board of Trustees for compliance.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges made the site visit Nov. 9-10, and the commission is expected to review the report in January. SBCC expects to receive the commission’s findings in mid-January, according to Joan Galvan, the college’s public information officer.

The board had notice of the visit, and interviews were done with community college members chosen by the accreditation team, according to trustee Joan Livingston, who added that the ACCJC is one of several external institutions that holds SBCC accountable for best practices.

“In 2009 under the leadership of Superintendent/President Dr. Andreea Serban, SBCC had one of the best accreditation reports in the state,” she said. “I believe this is the first time in the college’s 100-year history that a special ACCJC visit has been required to investigate the conduct of the current Board of Trustees members.”

Trustee Marty Blum also said that the accreditation team interviewed many during their visit, including trustees, staff, students and some residents.

“They heard from all of us how much SBCC is loved here, and I believe they will be fair in addressing the complaint they received,” she said.

News of the visit first surfaced in July, when a letter from commission president Barbara Beno was sent to then-SBCC President Andreea Serban. Beno said the commission had received a complaint and supporting evidence that alleged the Board of Trustees was out of compliance, particularly with its role as a governing board.

“If Commission investigation yields credible evidence that indicates a systemic problem that calls into question the institution’s ability to meet Commission standards and policies, the Commission may invoke the sanctions provided for in policy,” Beno stated in her letter. (Scroll down the page for the complete letter.)

“No one can speculate about the outcome of this visit at this time, but the goal at SBCC is always to learn how to carry out its mission to the highest standards possible,” Livingston said.

The Board of Trustees has been at the center of controversy since its decision over the summer to place Serban on paid administrative leave after marathon meetings to discuss her evaluation. The reason for her dismissal was never revealed because the trustees said they could not disclose what occurred in closed session.

Allegations surfaced that the board had violated the Brown Act at its June 8 meeting by failing to disclose its evaluation of Serban, but Chief Deputy District Attorney Jerry Lulejian said in August that the trustees had not violated the Brown Act in their dealings with Serban.

Serban has since been hired for an interim position with the Coast Community College District in Orange County. Dr. Jack Friedlander, formerly SBCC’s executive vice president, was named acting president of the college while the board looks for a permanent candidate.

Board president Peter Haslund told Noozhawk on Friday that he “felt the visit went very well.”

“Now that this has been completed, I hope we can find common ground so that we can work together on behalf of students,” he said. “We have some enormous challenges ahead of us, and it is time we part company with our most recent and difficult past and look instead to the future. Our students deserve our very best efforts.”

Noozhawk staff writer Lara Cooper can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges Letter


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