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Former Compton Community College still on life support

An official tells a campus meeting that it will be several more years before the school may regain the accreditation it lost in 2005 after an array of financial and administrative problems.

April 09, 2011|By Rick Rojas, Los Angeles Times

Nearly six years after Compton Community College lost its accreditation after an array of financial problems and administrative corruption, the school remains on life support, community college officials said at a campus event Friday.

School officials had embezzled money and the college was seen as woefully mismanaged when an oversight agency revoked Compton's accreditation in 2005. After the college gave up on its appeals, it was subsumed by El Camino Community College in Torrance, becoming El Camino Compton Center.

In a candid speech Friday, Genethia Hudley-Hayes, the appointed special trustee for Compton Community College District, said the road to accreditation is a long and difficult one. She also addressed grumblings in the community that by having its college become an El Camino satellite campus, Compton was losing a point of pride.

"If we get rid of El Camino, we as a patient on life support, we are dead," Hudley-Hayes said in her speech, adding later, "I expect the community to stop whining, stop complaining, to roll up their sleeves and get behind El Camino and Compton Community College."

The president of El Camino College, Thomas M. Fallo, said there was no established timeline for Compton to regain its accreditation, although he said it was likely to take at least several more years.

Hudley-Hayes, a former president of the Los Angeles Unified School District board, was appointed to the position in December by Jack Scott, chancellor of the California Community Colleges.

Hudley-Hayes said she took the job after making several visits to the campus last winter and was inspired by students she encountered.

"I saw young black and brown people who had book bags, not bullets," she said. "They were trying to get an education and not doing crack; they were trying to change their circumstances."

Since taking the position, she has ousted the school's chief executive, Lawrence Cox, as well as bought out contracts, changed law firms and pushed faculty members she deemed lackluster to improve their performance.

In her speech, she said, it's time for some faculty "to do less-than-better somewhere else."

Indeed, Hudley-Hayes called herself "an agitator" who makes as many enemies as she does friends. On that count, it seems she's correct.

Many in Friday's crowd were impressed with her straightforward delivery.

But Lestean Johnson, president of the Compton Chamber of Commerce, said she found her to be insulting and thought the relationship with El Camino infringed on community pride in Compton.

El Camino, Johnson said, has been "very disrespectful to the community. You removed our name, our colors. You removed our logo."

"We in Compton take pride in what we have," Johnson said. "I don't consider it Compton Center. It will forever be Compton College."

rick.rojas@latimes.com

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