The Chabot-Las Positas Community College District appears headed back to the drawing board in its search for a new permanent chancellor, although the situation is less clear now than it was early last week.
The Board of Trustees made an unexpected announcement Dec. 18 that none of its three finalists was selected for the position after individual interviews, but district officials were forced to pull back on that decision days later after learning the board's closed-session agenda was not properly posted for the public.
"The board has subsequently learned that the meeting during which the finalist interviews were held was not properly agendized," Guisselle Nuñez, the district's public relations director, told the Weekly last Friday. "This means the board did not have the benefit of hearing public comment before reaching a decision. The board's initial decision to continue the chancellor search is withdrawn pending further review."
The seven-member board is now scheduled to meet Jan. 8 at the district headquarters in Dublin to figure out a plan of action -- a meeting whose agenda is already posted on the district website.
The district, which serves 29,000 East Bay community college students among main campuses at Las Positas College in Livermore and Chabot College in Hayward, began its nationwide recruitment for a new chancellor earlier this school year.
Previous chancellor Jannett Jackson stepped down in August after leading the district for five years -- a resignation that came two months after the board voted not to renew her contract beyond its June 2019 expiration date.
Chancellor Emeritus Susan Cota served initially as interim chancellor through Sept. 14, after which California Community Colleges veteran administrator Thomas Fallo was tapped to fill the temporary role until a permanent chancellor was hired.
The recruitment has been spearheaded by a consultant firm working with a district-wide search committee comprised of faculty, staff, students and community members.
The district announced earlier this month that the board had selected three finalists from among the pool of candidates who applied.
The top candidates were Lisa Avery, president of Portland Community College's Sylvania Campus in Portland, Ore.; David Dore, campus president and vice chancellor of workforce and economic development at the Pima Community College District in Tucson, Ariz.; and Walter Tribley, superintendent/president of Monterey Peninsula College in Monterey.
The district held public forums with those finalists on each of the two college campuses the week of Dec. 10, and then the board held a public meeting Dec. 17 to hear public comment before talking in closed-session about the chancellor search.
The board followed by conducting closed-session interviews with the finalists Dec. 18, but announced after the meeting that no candidate was chosen for the position.
"The Board of Trustees and I will continue to work closely to determine the next steps as we continue our search for a permanent chancellor to lead our district," Fallo said in a short statement Dec. 19.
Nuñez said she could not reveal details about the board's deliberations, including whether any finalist had advanced to a board vote but fell short of majority approval.
"Unfortunately the interviews took place in closed session and it's also a personnel-related discussion so we are not able to share any further information than what's already been shared," she said.
Then last Friday, three days after the board's decision, Nuñez confirmed that district officials determined a clerical error resulted in the Dec. 18 meeting not being properly agendized, a violation of California's Brown Act.
"While such interviews are properly held in closed session, failure to post the meeting meant the board did not give a full opportunity to the public to speak on the issue prior to its deliberations," officials said in a statement on the district website.
The board's decision has been rescinded pending the outcome of a new special board meeting scheduled after the winter holidays, according to Nuñez.
"The board will make a final decision whether to continue the search after hearing and considering public comment at the Jan. 8 meeting," she said.
The special meeting is set to start at 5 p.m. at the district office at 7600 Dublin Blvd. According to the agenda posted online, the board will accept public comments before adjourning to closed session to "further deliberate regarding consideration of the finalists and/or consideration of an interim chancellor assignment."