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Cerritos College ‘Officially Warned’ On Accreditation Report 

By Brian Hews

Cerritos College has been notified by a state review organization that it is in danger of having its full accreditation status yanked if changes are not implemented immediately.

The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges (ACCJC) issued a stinging report to Superintendent Linda Lacy about the current condition and environment at the Alondra Boulevard based campus by announcing its decision to issue a “warning” to Cerritos College after an extensive 2013-14 Self-Evaluation Report was conducted on the campus during the past several months.

Lacy recently told Trustees that she would be quitting her position and abruptly announced her retirement last month.  Lacy said she would be leaving after this upcoming school year concludes in May 2015.

Schools accredited by the ACCJC are required to undergo a peer- evaluation to determine areas of improvement every six years.

A spokesperson for Cerritos College attempted to downplay the “warning” in a statement issued to Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper and other media outlets on Monday afternoon.

“A Warning is the least severe of the four sanctions that ACCJC can issue when an institution has not met or partially met standards,” said spokesperson Aya Abalon.

A review of the executive summary of the report claims that Cerritos College officials need “areas of improvement” that includes degree and certificate student-learning outcomes, as well as scolding the Board of Trustees on their “leadership abilities.”

“Cerritos College remains fully accredited and continues to provide strong academic programs and resources that prepare students for future careers and transfer to four-year colleges and universities,” Abalon said in her statement.

“The recommendations will not impact students earning credits toward degrees, certificates, transfers, and Financial Aid is also available for eligible students,” she stressed.

Lacy attempted to deflect criticism and downplayed the results of the report in her media statement the harsh critic of the

“Our programs are strong. The evaluation is a peer-review process that allows the College to determine more ways to increase efficiencies. The Commission’s actions remind us that our work to improve campus governance standards must remain a priority in order to better serve our students and the community,” said Lacy.

However, an internal memo written by Lacy, sent to members of the Board of Trustees, and exclusively obtained by HMG-CN, Lacy sheds a very different light on the report that directly contradicts her public statement.

Lacy wrote in her memo to the Trustees last late last week: “I am disappointed that the College was placed on Warning, but from the team’s exit interview, I had anticipated the action.  We have begun to review the report thoroughly and develop strategies to correct the cited deficiencies.”

HMG-CN obtained a copy of the Accrediting Commission report that was authored by Barbara A. Beno who is the current President of the statewide watch and review agency.

Beno blasted the current Cerritos College Board voting majority that consists of current President Carmen Avalos, Vice President Sandra Salazar, Marissa Perez and John Paul Drayer.

Beno said that the commission “recognizes the achievements under the new president, however, interference be the Board of Trustees’ majority has placed the College in jeopardy.  The district has provided numerous trainings for Board members, but their behavior remains unchanged.”

Avalos said that, “The Board of Trustees is aggressively planning and assessing processes to ensure that the Commission’s standards are fully met with comprehensive effectiveness.”

“Our chief priority is to ensure that Cerritos College continues to serve our students and community with quality programs and strong leadership,” Avalos, who represents a wide part of South Gate and other western portions of the district.


Vice President Salazar ripped into the legitimacy of the report in a statement to HMG-CN on Tuesday.

“As the governing body of Cerritos College, Trustees are stewards of its resources both human and financial. Student success is the ultimate measurable outcome and the state’s student success score card for community colleges is now a standard,” Salazar said.

“The Community College of San Francisco has made recent history in challenging the legitimacy and impartiality of the Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges,” Salazar continued. “Federal intervention overturned the accrediting commission’s attempt to harm the college, beginning with undermining its board of trustee’s ability to govern. Yet, according to the scorecard, 56 percent of students who entered San Francisco City College in the 2007-08 school year achieved their goal of transferring or earning an associate degree within six years. I bring this up as it is a test case to the questionable composition and methods of the accreditation commission who seem to operate punitively on trustees and administrators that challenge the status quo,” she said.

“Student success simply cannot wait and it is in that belief that I campaigned and was elected to serve. Upon being elected, I could not believe that Cerritos College had less than an 8-12 % transfer rate and a rudimentary approach to career pathways in the new economy.  This is pure and simply unacceptable, this is why the board of trustee’s new leadership thinks out of the box, and calls on national best practices to ensure that Cerritos College will become a flagship community college that takes a lead role in facilitating educational opportunities that will tangibly build a new middle class in our region. We were elected to ensure student success is measurable.   I find the findings of the accrediting commission disturbing and again question the composition of their accreditation team and their methodology,” Salazar concluded.


  • kking says:

    “Yet, according to the scorecard, 56 percent of students who entered San Francisco City College in the 2007-08 school year achieved their goal of transferring or earning an associate degree within six years.”

    SIX years? You have got to be kidding. The goal should be two. Anything longer than that is abject failure.

    • Randy R. Economy says:

      That is a terrific point about SFCC and the comparison to Cerritos College.

      Randy Economy
      Hews Media Group-Community Newspaper
      [email protected]

    • Council of Thieves says:

      I’ll agree six years is stretching it. However, thanks to the tax and spend politicians, two years in a community college is no longer the norm. Budget cuts and fewer class offered make transferring with your GE certified or an AA in two years nearly impossible. Unless of course, your in a major that has a fast track program guaranteeing classes. Three to four years is more the reality.

      Not helping things here are greedy trustees like the former Cerritos councilman/mayor who was too busy taking his $70,000 cash in lieu medical benefits from the college, as reported in this newspaper.

  • Angry Faculty Member! says:

    Great reporting Hews Media! What I find most striking is that less than 8 % of our students at Cerritos College finish in 6 years. In any other industry, you would fire the CEO and management team, right? As I drive by Alondra every day on my way to work, it seems visible that the present college president is more concerned with the bond funded construction program and inside wiring of her friends in the lucrative college construction program. Can we just get a forensic audit before she steps down and moves to Coto de Caza with her platinum parachute package?

  • Worried Student says:

    Sandra Salazar, please. Who wrote that for you. Ever since you and the other minions were elected Cerritos College has been nothing more than a joke. Your one of the main reasons there is a “leadership ability” issues on the board.

  • Cerritos College says:

    Comparing community college districts is not equitable when the demographics/locations are vastly different.

    Current data from the Student Success Scorecard show that transfer rates for Cerritos College students have increased: http://scorecard.cccco.edu/scorecardrates.aspx?CollegeID=811

    Overall, Cerritos College students transfer at an approximate 41.3% rate to some of the country’s most respected colleges and universities. The state transfer rate for community college students is about 48.1%.

    Recent reports show that the average community college student takes about four years to complete their educational goals for varying reasons, including budget cuts, having to work full-time and family obligations. Cerritos College students who transfer and graduate are well-positioned to succeed. Visit Cerritos online: http://www.cerritos.edu/

    • Cerritos College Failure says:

      Thanks still LOUSY stats! We need to stop celebrating FAILURE at CERRITOS COLLEGE! Come on, what the hell are we doing paying these BONDS for CERRITOS COLLEGE anyway. The community isn’t stupid.