Monday, October 7, 2002

An ominous atmosphere (Academic Senate moving toward a lawsuit)

From Dissent 66,

Oct. 7, 2002

[no title]
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks.

Intervention sought:
     During an August meeting of the IVC Academic Senate, it was suggested that, given the Chancellor & Board’s exclusion of the Academic Senate from governance, there really is no point in continuing. It was suggested, too, that the Senate might better devote its energies to seeking redress in the courts.

* * *

     On September 12, the exec. cabinet of the IVC Academic Senate sent a letter to State Chancellor Nussbaum, seeking his “intervention” “to secure rights granted to local senates under Title 5” of the Ed Code. The letter cited four examples of the Board’s many actions in violation of “law, policy and process.”
     The first concerned the Board’s action (Fall 2000) to revise BP6120 (academic freedom), despite objections from the senates. Example 2 was the Board’s adoption (12/01) of a revision of BP5604 (eligibility for admission) despite “vehement” senate objections. Example 3 was the Board’s decision (2/02) to unilaterally revise BP 2100.1 (delegation of authority to academic senates), despite the policy’s explicitly prohibiting such action.
     The fourth and most recent example concerned “revisions to District hiring policies,” including revisions to the Full-Time Academic Employees Hiring Policy, developed over the summer by Chancellor Mathur. These revisions, said the letter, “are rife with numerous individual violations of law, policy and good practice.” Despite Title 5, “At no time were any of the governance groups on either campus invited to participate, or even alerted to the existence of the committee.” Further, governance groups were given only 8 days to provide “input.”

* * *

     The Senate’s letter yielded a response—a letter discovered belatedly, and already opened, in the senate president’s mail box! Dated Sept. 16, the letter, from Ralph Black, attorney for the State Chancellor’s Office, requested further info to determine whether his involvement “would be warranted.” Black offers a jurisdictional point: “Unless faculty hiring is listed as an ‘academic and professional matter’ under the SOCCCD shared governance policy..., faculty hiring does not fall under the jurisdiction of [the Board of Governors’] regulations.” (More on this later.)
     On Sept. 25th, Mathur emailed the Saddleback ac. Senate, suggesting that he is under no obligation to consult the Academic Senates regarding modifications of the hiring policy. To support this odd view, he cited Black’s letter and its point about jurisdiction, but he ignored Black’s remark, in the same letter, that
     Faculty hiring procedures are covered by [the] Education Code..., which requires that “hiring criteria, policies, and procedures for new faculty members shall be developed and agreed upon jointly by representatives of the governing board, and the academic senate….” (Ralph Black)
     Late in 1993, the Board approved a “Full Time Academic Employees Hiring Policy” that makes clear that the hiring policy can be changed only upon mutual agreement between the district and the faculty senates. This, of course, is the crucial “further information” that Ralph Black needs and will soon receive.

* * *

     Budget development, of course, is plainly listed among the academic and professional matters of the district’s “shared governance” policy (2100.1). Hence, a failure to consult with the academic senate regarding budget development would be a violation of “shared governance”—one that clearly does fall under Black’s jurisdiction. Mr. Black will be interested to learn that, at IVC, the senate has been excluded from the budget development process for years.

Mmmmm, it’s time for pie:
     Call me a cock-eyed optimist. To me, government officials ought never to sell their decisions for money or support or favors. The head of the CTA, Wayne Johnson, evidently disagrees. Not long ago, he complained that teachers did not get “more” from Governor Davis, in view of CTA’s massive contributions to Davis’ campaign. Said Johnson, “People who gave him less money than we did have gotten more…You expect favorable treatment. That’s why you do it. That’s as American as apple pie.”
Just ask John “Let’s make a deal!” Williams.
     Back in 1997, during the IVC presidential search, Williams, evidently acting on behalf of the Board Majority, approached Trustee Lang with what he later described as a “compromise.” Williams knew that the Majority had the votes to appoint Raghu Mathur, but he wanted a unanimous, or at least an unopposed, appointment.
     According to sworn legal declarations, the proposed deal went like this: (1) the Majority would spare two IVC administrators from dismissal and (2) Williams would support any future bid on Lang’s part for Board office. In exchange, the Minority would support (or would refrain from opposing) Mathur’s appointment. The latter action, of course, was something the Minority was loath to do, for it understood Mathur’s history of unprofessional and even illegal conduct.
     Because the two administrators wanted no part of this deal, Lang rejected the “compromise.” Subsequently, he has never been elected to Board office, despite numerous nominations. Meanwhile, two more junior trustees have already served as board president.

* * *

     Well, once again, the pie-man cometh. Williams has approached the faculty union to secure its endorsement of his bid for a position at the OC Community Affairs Office. (See OC Weekly, 3/1/02) Williams, of course, is the Board’s most egregious Brown Act violator; he’s its staunchest defender of process violations (remember Mathur’s questionable appointment in ‘97 and the Accrediting Commission’s subsequent censure of the board?); he’s embraced every effort in recent years to thwart “shared governance”; plus he’s the sort of politician who will say and do anything—including use homophobic scare tactics—to advance his career. No decent organization would endorse such a man for office.
     Further, Williams, more than anyone, is responsible for the union’s current position behind the eight ball re contract negotiations, a situation he is in no position to now undo. (See Dissent 64.)
Nevertheless, some union members advocate the endorsement. One expects this from the astonishingly unprincipled Old Guard—the people whose “quid pro quo”s thrust us into the “Board Majority” era—and, as always, they do not disappoint. But some of the New Guard seem to agree!
     The New Guard has generally stayed off of the low road; as a consequence, the Times and Register have been friendly. If Williams gets his endorsement, expect that to change.

[Note: for what it's worth, as a member of the senate (and sometimes senate leadership), I was always the strongest advocate for pursuit of a legal remedy. It took a long time to get everyone on board. --RB]


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