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STATEMENT: Rio Hondo CSEA Chapter Slams Current RHCC Board Members for ‘Institutional Failure and Mismanagement’

October 28,2018

Submitted by Heng Lim
California School Employees Association (CSEA)
Labor Relations Representative, Santa Fe Field Office

Rio Hondo will be facing a revenue shortfall over the next few years due to a new funding formula for all community colleges based on performance and outcome. If we continue our current course, we will lose millions of dollars almost immediately. Even by current estimates by the administration, a likely funding loss for the first year under this new formula will exceed $4 million.

  • This performance based funding has been in the pipeline since 2010 when the California Community Colleges Student Success Task Force provided an overview of the concept in its final report. Yet, Rio Hondo has not taken proper steps to increase its output.
  • The board of trustees are charged with providing oversight and direction over Rio Hondo’s president/superintendent yet it has not done an adequate job of doing so.
  • Rio Hondo will not be able to stop the funding shortfall, but it can minimize the effect until the performance level of the students increase. Why hasn’t the board insisted on accountability?

The board will tell you that they are in great fiscal health because they have a $12 million dollar surplus. Is the surplus due to prudent financial policy and practice or is it because they failed to spend money on necessary expenditures that the school needs to improve safety and academic performance?

  • Consider this, on the heels of a large surplus, the school has not funded a $30,000 request by management to create a crisis communication system in the three academic centers off-campus? If there was an active shooter incident, or any emergency such as earthquakes, etc., there is no way to inform the campus so that they can take appropriate precautions. Is that sound or prudent fiscal practice? And this is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • The physical plant is in need of upgrades. Facilities equipment is 50 years old, only 2 years younger than Rio Hondo itself. There has been a request from facilities for a needed upgrade, which has gone unanswered.
  • What about better internet access for students? Online courses, and other technology-based infrastructure is something that is lacking at a level which Rio Hondo needs to be a first-rate institution.

The administration has failed to adequately staff key positions for over two years leading to a predictable breakdown of proper chain of command and efficient operations. There has been no official facility manager for over five years. This position is responsible for, among other things, security on campus.

  • In particular the facility manager oversees the required campus safety reporting as defined by the Jeanne Clery Act of 1965. Rio Hondo Community College has failed to notify their community of these campus safety reports as required by law since 2013. The 2017 Annual Security Report was not published by October 1, 2018 as required by law and no notice of to the community of the 2017 Annual Security Report was issued. These reports include crimes such as sex offenses, robbery and aggravated assault.

The lack of a facility manager also led to another breakdown when the president appointed an interim HR Director who lacks the proper experience or knowledge of acceptable HR practice as defined by SHRM (Society for Human Resource Management).

  • This resulted in poor handling of crisis management when a key administrator brought a loaded weapon to work only to have it left out in the bathroom. The administrator, after having violated state law and board policy was allowed to “interview” his own staff about the gun incident. Thereafter, the interim EDHR failed to promptly seek adequate mental health assistance for staff, he failed to communicate to staff any safety concerns and further interrogated staff as if they had done something wrong. While individual behavior of key leaders cannot be controlled, how the interim HR director handled the situation opened Rio Hondo to potential liability and exposed the Rio Hondo staff, students and community to unnecessary danger.

A common factor in the numerous areas of institutional failure is the lack of oversight and leadership provided by the Rio Hondo Board of Trustees.

  • The board must know what is within the scope of their authority and responsibilities.
  • The board should not inject its authority in day to day operational issues, but must question the Administration when key positions are not filled, or when key outcomes and objectives are not met.
    • During the height of the gun incident, the board gave an absolute vote of confidence for the president, twice. When one of the Rio Hondo Stakeholders requested that the board conduct an impartial review of the incident, the board refused, citing that all policies were followed and that an internal function of the school will look into the incident. The policies were not in fact followed and the internal workgroup has yet to receive such a request from the board.

The current incumbents of this board need to answer to the mismanagement and institutional failure at Rio Hondo College. They have failed to uphold their duties and as a result, placed the future of the college in jeopardy. It is clear that they do not know their duties, or they lack the competencies required to provide leadership and oversight at that level. They must also be held accountable for not following key board policies such as Administrative Procedure 3515 Reporting of Crimes.

 

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