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Did Rio Hondo College President Reyes Violate the Ed. Code and Commit Fraud?

BY BRIAN HEWS • July 8, 2020

Under the California Education Code, superintendents and other administrators work 245 days per year, which is the normal 260 workday year minus 15 vacation days which are unpaid and earned on a monthly basis; some have more vacation days, some have less.

Under a Los Angeles County Office of Education (LACOE) interpretation, administrators can have less workdays than 260, but they cannot earn vacation, much like other ten-month positions at the college.

But Rio Hondo College Superintendent/President Arturo Reyes wanted it both ways, working less days and earning vacation, all while giving himself a chance to take more money.

Hews Media Group-Los Cerritos Community News has obtained documents that show Reyes violating the Education Code, unilaterally lowering the annual workdays in his employment contract to 217 and giving himself the ability to take extra compensation for any days over 217, amounting to over $50,000.

And according to one Rio Hondo Board Member who wanted to remain anonymous until they could take action, Reyes did it without the Rio Hondo College Board’s approval.

The revelation could trigger the resignation of Reyes as Superintendent/President for the college.

In an email obtained by HMG and dated August 26, 2019, the sender wrote, “attached you will find a copy of the superintendent’s contract. President Dr. Reyes’ annual salary shall be payable in 12 equal monthly installments, his contract was negotiated based on 217 days not 242. Can you [sic] advice how we can go by and create a 217 days calendar in the HRS system.”


An email requesting the change from 242 days to 217 days.


“He did not negotiate anything with us,” stated the board member, “this is fraud.”

The sender of the email was redacted, but it was clear that Reyes’ contract was changed, with a employee forwarding the bogus contract to LACOE.

Within two hours, LACOE Systems Specialist Steven Mansell immediately objected to the contract writing, “Since the president is a certified employee, he is a per diem employee that is paid an annual salary for working all the required work days of his contract. His contract states that his 12 month work year is 242 days of which 25 days can be taken as vacation. A vacation day by definition is a paid work day that you don’t show up and therefore must be included in the paid work days on the HRS work calendar of 242 days.”


LACOE Systems Specialist Steven Mansell objecting to the 217 day contract.



But Shawn Smith, then-Executive Director of Human Resources for Rio Hondo, overrode Mansell’s objections.

Nine days later, Smith approved Reyes’ days, “I support the president’s days in which he is required to be at work to be 217. Please have this reflected in his payroll record.”





The approval by Smith caused LACOE to create a special payroll calendar for Reyes and his 217 day contract – one in which LACOE highly discouraged – all other employees are paid based on 242 days.

Smith’s loyalty was not repaid, in May of this year Reyes fired him, calling him “incompetent.”




Payroll calendar showing Reyes work days set at 217.



The move by Reyes is similar to what Centinela Valley Superintendent Jose Fernandez pulled in 2010, using a 215 day calendar.

Fernandez eventually resigned and was ordered to stand trial on corruption charges.

Fernandez was able to enjoy travelling without touching his allotted vacation days, then cashing out the unused vacation hours at the end of each year.

The 215-day calendar also gave Fernandez a big raise, due to “extra work days,” anything over 215 he would earn extra money, over $1,200 per day, $50,000 total.

Reyes gave himself the same ability to work extra days and earn over $1,150 per day.

The board member stated, “Superintendent President Reyes changed the terms of his employment contract on his own, without consulting the board thus committing fraud. He changed his contract working days from 242 to 217 without authorization,  which is a violation of the Education Code.”

Texts to Reyes were not returned.





  • Faculty at Rio says:

    There needs to be a full investigation and recuperation of any money that Reyes owes the district. This president is the worst in recent history. He came in and immediately took a credit card and is know to spend lavishly on the backs of taxpayers and the community who supports Rio Hondo. He needs to resign immediately!

    • RHC Staff 2 says:

      Do you think previous Presidents of RHC didn’t have college credit cards? You’ve got to be kidding me. This is standard practice.

      • Faculty at Rio says:

        He is the first one to have a college credit card. Previous president did not habe one.

        • RHC Staff 2 says:

          100% false. The last Pres. had a college credit card or two or three that were used in the name of “Rio Hondo business.” Check with Purchasing for records. Pretty sure those are public records and the bills had to be reconciled on a monthly basis.

  • Faculty at Rio Hondo College says:

    In his first year at Rio Hondo College the President has focused on getting rid of the growth and success the college has made under past leadership. He is trying to close Ed Centers, Child Development Center, downsize administrators, downsize disciplines, proposed drastic budget cuts, has attempted to illegally tap into student government funds, and the list goes on. He is an authoritarian leader that truly does not value shared governance. He has created a culture of fear and masks his firings by pressuring people to resign or retire.

    Worst of all, he came in as the “Savior” of this vulnerable community. He presented himself as student and community centered all while stealing from them.. CON-ARTIST EXPOSED!!! His salary is overblown for a president of a single college District. He needs to resign and criminal charges made. HE is a FRAUD. He wants to work less while putting extra money in his pockets.

    • Rio Hondo Insider says:

      Reyes’ salary is not anywhere NEAR the top of the range for a single college District. Case in point (from Transparent California):

      2018 – Ohlone College – Gari Browning – $365,932.57 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 8,026
      2018 – College of the Desert – Joel Lee Kinnamon – $351,572.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 10,074
      2018 – Citrus College – Geraldine Marie Perri-Petruolo – $340,260.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 11,629
      2018 – Chaffey College – Henry D. Shannon – $315,400.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 19,725
      2018 – College of Marin – David W. Coon – $316,342.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 4,190
      2019 – Santa Monica College – Kathryn E. Jeffrey – $313,503.96 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 27,190
      2019 – Pasadena City College – Erika Endrijonas – $307,001.98 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 25,202
      **** 2019 – Rio Hondo College – Arturo Reyes – $303,000 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 17,807 ****
      2018 – Santa Barbara City College – Anthony Beebe – $300,569.31 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 13,344
      2019 – Long Beach City College – Reagan F. Romali – $297,192.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 23,312
      2019 – Sierra College – William H. Duncan – $294,947.04 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 16,383
      2018 – Glendale Community College – David Leon Viar – $293,097.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 12,996
      2019 Mira Costa College – Sunita Cooke – $291,076.50 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 13,808
      2018 – Mt. Sac – Bill Scroggins – $280,536.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 26,865
      2018 – Gavilan College – Kathleen A. Rose – $267,044.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 5,013
      2018 – Hartnell College – Willard C Lewallen – $265,099.00 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 11,218
      2018 – El Camino College – Dena Pearson Maloney – $260,312.50 – Enrollment (2017-2018) – 21,663

      • Rio Hondo Faculty says:

        Previous president did not have a credit card. And I love how the insider and staff are sidestepping the real issue here which is that the college president knowingly took steps to defraud the college. He didn’t negotiate it like staff and faculty must do. He circumvented the process. I see we have an insider and staff who thinks it is OK to play dirty. Disgusting.

        • Rio Hondo Insider says:

          I’m not jumping on the bandwagon until I have all the facts. There are elements to this story that stink to high heaven.

          For starters, I wonder…how could an HR Director at ANY college (in this case, Shawn Smith of RHC) “override” objections from the Los Angeles County Office of Education if this truly was illegal/fraud? There were at least 6 individuals from LACOE CCed on Mr. Mansell’s e-mail response. Is it LACOE’s practice to shrug their shoulders and do as they’re told? Are there no checks and balances?

          Did Los Cerritos News reach out to any of the LACOE employees for comment? What about the LACOE employee who had to create this special payroll calendar? Let’s hear from them.

          P.S. There was never any talk about closing the Child Development Center or the Ed Centers permanently. Drastic budget cuts have been proposed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. I urge you to show me

          I do NOT think it’s okay to play dirty, but my guess is that there’s a lot more to this story than is represented in this very one-sided article. Furthermore, if the Board member who “leaked” this story is the one everyone suspects, (s)he is and has been one of the most crooked players in the RHC “family” for YEARS. Want to talk about playing dirty? Dig a little bit into the whole Del Terra mess and you’ll see we have MORE than a few “con artists” on the payroll.

          Let’s put down our pitchforks and let the investigation run its course.

        • RHC Staff 2 says:

          The previous President ABSOLUTELY had a college credit card. I was treated to lunch a time or two and it wasn’t on her dime, I’ll tell you that much.

  • Rio Hondo Faculty says:

    The intent was there. Again missing the point. Of course there will be an investigation. All deserve due process. But the emails show the intent. And if you are so sure about this Del Terra scandal and dirty players on the payroll…why are you equating it with this? Again you seem to think that this is normal business. It’s clear that there is some bias toward the president and that this is just the way it is. Very interesting. No outrage just acceptance.

    • RHC Insider says:

      I bring up Del Terra because my question is why are faculty and staff (and the Board for that matter) so quick to demand an investigation on this topic but for years have remained largely silent (or worse, complicit) regarding the crooks from Del Terra? $8+ million over budget?! Where’s the OUTRAGE about that?! And where’s the outrage about Board President Valladares allegedly sexually harassing and intimidating a female political candidate who then promptly resigned from Rio Hondo’s Citizen’s Oversight Committee?

  • Roadrunner says:

    Unbelievable. Two board members continue to defend him even under these circumstances. Shame on the two who also protect the soccer coach who is a close friend of Reyes from Northern California who is the Chief Financial Officer. Reliable sources (2) tell me that the two loyal Reyes board members are the one who allowed Reyes if commit fraud acting as the full board. Those two should be investigated! But now the biggest supporter board members resigned escaping scrutiny. Clean the mess up!

  • RHC Staff says:

    Without further delay and major negative impact or damages to RHC especially at this unprecedented time , it is very crucial that President Reyes should be thoroughly investigated and his day-to-day work performance and decisions be scrutinized . He is the worst leader I have known- and many are starting to see that as far as I know. He is very insincere, ineffective, dishonest and has very low integrity President. Only those who do not care enough for others and RHC and those in good terms or YES man/woman to him (mostly incompetent , non-hard working and low integrity individuals) will respect and support him. Those in power to take immediate action should do so now while it is not too late as for each day he stays at RHC, more and more damage and waste of money that he can further develop and this will have huge and long-term negative impact to the work culture and moral in RHC as a whole such as by him bringing in and tolerating incompetent ,dishonest and lazy(I could say) administrators or other persons who he can easily control and follow his wrong doings. We should not wait until RHC just suddenly broke down or we all become divided. Other staff should also speak up or come forward and not to think of themselves only or of what they are enjoying personally or at work when they continue to remain silent – we should do take risk if needed and do good things for the sake of other RHC staff, students and all the concerned families and stakeholders. I really hope and pray that we all wake up and stand for what is right while it is not too late.

  • Jill Flannigan says:

    He’s just getting started. Lock all doors. Bring your pets inside. You got the idea…


  • Dalene Nickelson says:

    I just read in one of the comments to lock your pets inside!
    you all might want to watch out for your wives and or girlfriends, significant others…he left his previous college by breaking up some marriages… I understand a previous college to that the same thing he’s a good one at ruining lives but if you’re a yes person and you’ll do what he wants and keep his secrets you can go far… all while he is completely working for his own benefit and will leave everybody else in the dust or force them to quit so They cannot speak up on his indiscretions and fraud

  • RHC Staff says:

    I read the SGV Tribune article where his soccer coach friend is defending him.
    First- he hired a soccer coach, a close friend who was assistant dean of athletic at West Hill district as the vice president of business. This soccer coach did not even meet the minimum qualifications. What is the use of minimum qualifications and the hiring process? It is well known that the interview panel was not allowed to see the application of this vp because he knew what he was doing. He lied to the board that this guy meet MQ’s.
    The soccer coach defense is flat wrong. Misunderstanding? LACOE warned him? He knew what he was doing. This president left a mess at Ukiah campus and there he fired the HR director after he questioned is inappropriate hirings. He is known for breaking marriages, ask someone who worked with him up north.
    If he was a janitor and promoted to be a president, I would excuse his misunderstanding of the contract language. Come on! He was president of the only campus in Ukiah, he has been a VP at different college.
    Also, if there was a misunderstanding, then he is so incompetent that he does not need to be a president.
    Because he is caught in his lies and fraud, his soccer coach friend has come to his defense.
    This president has done so much damage in such a short period of time, he fired Julian, Steven K., Shawn Smith, Director of financial aid, counselors, useless reorganizations, took Henry’s office and many others which are yet to be known.In addition to this fraud!
    If h was unable to manage a small college in Ukiah, how can he manage RHC which is 10 times?