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The agency that accredits community colleges in California and Hawaii is facing criticism for encouraging officials at the colleges it accredits to write letters of support on its behalf in the accreditor's battle with the U.S. Education Department, the Los Angeles Times reported. The Accrediting Commission for Community and Junior Colleges, part of the Western Association of Colleges and Schools, was reprimanded by the federal agency in August after the accreditor threatened to terminate the accreditation of City College of San Francisco, among the country's largest institutions. In response to a complaint filed by unions affiliated with the San Francisco institution, department officials found the commission out of compliance with several of its rules, and ordered a review.

According to the Los Angeles Times article, officials of the accrediting commission sent an Oct. 8 letter urging business officers at California's community colleges to sent the agency "letters of support" that it could forward on to the Education Department. Union officials called the request inappropriate; the commission's president defended it."The 133 colleges that are members of ACCJC have an interest in helping to ensure their accrediting body achieves renewal of federal recognition," Barbara Beno, the commission's president, said in an e-mail to the newspaper.