Monday, October 7, 2002

The Rodney Poindexter affair

From Dissent 66
October 7, 2002

By Chunk Wheeler (Roy Bauer)

White male from Virginia

     Among Raghu Mathur’s achievements while IVC President was a series of administrative hires that, despite protests from search committees, boldly ridded the college of administrative competence. One such hire was “Rod” Poindexter, ASIVC’s recent Administrator of the Year. (The ASIVC prez was one Anthony Kuo, a Mathurian.)
     Mathur & Co.’s appointment of Dean Poindexter in June of 2001 was controversial. According to the Irvine World News,
     More than 40 teachers, students and community college leaders came to [the] meeting of the SOCCCD board of trustees to air their displeasure that long-time athletic director Aracely Mora was passed over for the job as dean of health sciences, physical education and athletics at IVC…The board voted 5-2 to appoint John Rodney Poindexter…Board members Marcia Milchiker and David Lang dissented… According to Irvine Valley College president Raghu Mathur, Poindexter is a well-qualified candidate and “brings a wealth of knowledge and background to this assignment.”...Psychology professor John Lowe, a member of the hiring committee, said that Mora was the best candidate for the dean’s position… (6/28/01)
     When he arrived, Poindexter proved to be a devotee of Mathurianism, i.e., the fastidious disregard of faculty opinion. Worse, judging by rumors, it seemed that Poindexter somehow posed a threat to safety, a situation that Mathur, and then Glenn Roquemore, steadfastly refused to recognize.
     In the spring of ‘02, the problems at PE suddenly became public. The Times (6/29/02) reported that
     All five tenured members of an OC community college physical education department have filed a harassment complaint against their dean, and his secretary has told campus police she fears for her safety after he allegedly chased her down a corridor and cornered her…Rod Poindexter, dean of health sciences, physical education and athletics at IVC, has been the subject of faculty complaints since shortly after he started his job a year ago…“Dr. Poindexter is becoming more and more isolated,” said the 11- page complaint filed with the college…“His behavior has created an environment where there is fear that he can ‘snap’ and physically hurt others and himself. We need help. The abuse, retaliation and discrimination need to stop.”…The complaint…asks that the dean “be removed from the campus during the investigation…in order to protect the safety of the department members and the liability of the school district.”
     …The alleged confrontation between [secretary] Franzoni and Poindexter occurred Jan. 4. Poindexter said the relationship between them had been getting worse. “She went to the other side and started working against me.”…According to the campus police report, Franzoni had just come from a meeting with Poindexter in which he had told her she was not doing her work. She walked to the office of Weatherford…According to her statement to campus police, “In the next moment, Rod [Poindexter] came charging down the hallway directly at me. Rod pinned me in the corner against the wall” and began screaming at her…Franzoni also filed a report with the Irvine police department the same day. The officer wrote that Franzoni “repeatedly broke out into tears…I could sense [she] was very scared of Poindexter and very frustrated because the school officials don’t seem to be taking the situation seriously.”…Brent Shaver, Irvine Valley’s sports information officer, told campus police “what I did witness was Dr. Poindexter putting Suzie in a scary and threatening position.”….
     About a week later, the IWN reported that Franzoni was filing a “$1 million lawsuit” against the district. Some expected Poindexter’s immediate dismissal. That didn’t happen.
     After the Franzoni incident and the faculty complaint, cops regularly came by the PE building in an effort at pacification. Meanwhile, Poindexter had other problems: e.g., by late spring, word spread that two administrators, including Poindexter, had grossly overscheduled for the Fall. When this was detected—by the ever-clueless Glenn Roquemore, who had failed to heed faculty’s warnings about Poindexter’s scheduling innovations—everybody’s scheduling was hurt.
     As had been predicted, Cely Mora soon found a job at another district. On August 1, 2002, the IWN reported that she had been “named dean of exercise science, health and athletics at Santa Ana College” for a salary of “$106,812.” (The IVC deanship paid $97K.) Off she went. (On the agenda of the last board meeting was “Mora v. Mathur.” Evidently, it is a discrimination lawsuit.)

Wall bounceage:
     One quiet morning in mid-August, the PE area again exploded with excitement. Paramedics rolled up and then carted someone away, and a rumor quickly spread that there had been a “fight” between Poindexter and an instructor. According to the rumor, Poindexter had ended up on the floor and had dialed 911!
     About three weeks later, the IWN reported that Poindexter “has been put on paid administrative leave by the SOCCCD board of trustees” (Sept. 5, 2002). The IWN hinted that the board’s action was prompted by the latest Poindexterous fracas:
     The decision came about two weeks after a confrontation between Poindexter…and…teacher Ted Weatherford…Campus police were called after an argument between Poindexter and Weatherford in the athletic offices on Aug. 14…Poindexter said he suffered back and neck injuries when Weatherford, the former chairman of the Physical Education Department, hit him with the door to Weatherford’s office…Weatherford…said he shut the door to his office after asking Poindexter to leave…Poindexter was informed on Aug. 27 of the board’s decision to place him on administrative leave…“I don’t know why (the decision was made) and they’ve (board members) told me nothing,” Poindexter said Tuesday. “I haven’t heard anything, they won’t return my phone calls.”…Poindexter…said he was not given a reason for being put on leave…[IVC President] Roquemore did not indicate when a decision would be made regarding Poindexter’s fate and did not know whether Poindexter would return to IVC…Poindexter suggested that the confrontation with Weatherford may have had a bearing [on the board’s decision]…
Poindexter said he and Weatherford had a meeting regarding Weatherford’s teaching schedule…Weatherford was upset, according to Poindexter, that he wasn’t assigned to teach some of the classes he had requested…The meeting began in Poindexter’s office, according to Poindexter…“He yelled about a tennis class and why it was being assigned to Jerry Hernandez,” Poindexter said. “He went storming down the hall and I went to calm him down.”…Poindexter said he followed Weatherford to his office to continue the discussion and Weatherford “slammed the door as hard as he could on me.”…Poindexter said he then “bounced off the wall” outside Weatherford’s office and suffered neck and back injuries that caused him to be hospitalized for six days. Poindexter said he strained his lower back and neck and doctors told him it will take approximately six weeks to fully recover…After the incident, Poindexter said he returned to his office to call the campus police. The college nurse and paramedics then arrived and Poindexter was taken to Irvine Medical Center…Poindexter missed six days of work, but said doctors told him he was well enough to return to work on Aug. 26. The next day, Poindexter was informed he had been put on administrative leave…Poindexter was not sure whether charges would be filed against Weatherford…“I thought he (Weatherford) would be suspended,” Poindexter said. “People tried to make it sound like it was my fault.”…Meanwhile, Poindexter will wait for a decision on his future…“I’ve been going to the doctor and meeting with my attorneys,” he said…
     Weatherford…said an argument began after Poindexter suggested some physical education classes would be dropped…“I was concerned about classes being cut and he became argumentative,” Weatherford said. “I was calm and I said I didn’t want to argue.”…Weatherford said he then went to his office and Poindexter followed him…Weatherford said he then asked Poindexter to leave numerous times but he didn’t. He also denied that he slammed the door on Poindexter…“That’s absolutely not true,” Weatherford said. “I don’t know what he did, but I tried to close the door and he put his shoulder against the door.”…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

     The latest issue of IVC’s Laser Beam notes Larry Oldewurtel’s selection as ASIVC’s “Teacher of the Year,” but it fails to mention Poindexter’s selection as ASIVC’s “Administrator of the Year.” So I wrote the PIO: “Why the omission?”, I asked.
     He wrote back: “It was an oversight on my part. I’ll do a follow-up in the next Laser to acknowledge him, albeit belatedly. Thanks for catching it.”
     You’re welcome!
     Meanwhile, the latest issue of Saddleback’s Online Newsletter (4/23/02) offers some sage remarks by Chancellor Mathur, including this one:
“I am reminded every time I point a finger there are 3 fingers pointing back at me. It all begins with ME.” [Emphasis in original.]
How true.

            —Chunk Wheeler

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