Peralta Steps Back from Extending Hand to Compton

By J. Douglas Allen-Taylor
Tuesday May 02, 2006

Recent developments surrounding Compton Community College makes it less likely—but not impossible—that the Peralta Community College District may step in to help bail out the troubled Southern California district. 

Last March, a cautious Peralta Board of Trustees gave Chancellor Elihu Harris limited authority to explore the administrative takeover of the one-college Compton district after Compton lost its accreditation from the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC). 

Compton is appealing that revocation. If the district loses, it would no longer be able to operate the college under its own authority and would have to close the college doors if another district did not take over the administrative duties. 

If it occurred, the Peralta administrative takeover would be financed by the State Community College Chancellor’s office, and not by Peralta. 

At last week’s Peralta trustee meeting, however, Harris told trustees that Peralta would not participate in an Request For Proposals (RFP) process recently initiated by State Community College Chancellor Mark Drummond. 

“It looks like some of the Southern California colleges may enter the RFP process,” Harris said following the meeting. “Because of the logistics of administering a college so far away, it would obviously make more sense for a local college to take over responsibility. But we’re still monitoring the situation, and we will see what happens after the RFP process goes through.” 

Harris said that if other districts do not submit a proposal and Compton loses its appeal, Peralta could still be asked to step in. 

Cheryl Fong, a spokesperson for the strategic assistance team appointed by State Chancellor Drummond following the loss of Compton’s accreditation, said that Drummond had initially put out feelers to several districts contiguous to Compton to “provide some level of assistance” to the Compton district. 

“All of them said they were interested,” Fong said, “but none of them made a commitment. It’s a big responsibility, and all of the districts wanted to wait to see what happened with the appeal process.” 

An initial late April hearing date for the Compton appeal has been put off, and Fong said that the Chancellor’s office has not been notified of a new hearing date. 

She said that Drummond issued the formal request for proposals in response to legislation introduced by Assemblymember Mervyn Dymally (D-Los Angeles). 

She also said that “Peralta’s welcome gesture of goodwill just in saying they would explore assisting Compton may encourage other community college districts to take a closer look at the situation.””