Community college district's search for new chancellor stalls

Chabot-Las Positas board opts to restart process, then pulls about-face after meeting wasn't properly agendized

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 The board's initial decision to continue the chancellor search is withdrawn pending further review."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."

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4 people like this
Posted by Concerned
a resident of Country Fair
on Dec 27, 2018 at 11:11 am

With so much time already spent to select 3 candidates, the fear is you will lose not only them, but future applicants should you draw this out much further. The district has a recent history of posting and withdrawing positions, or as in this case, being plain indecisive....let’s not make this protocol! If need be, redo the last meeting of concern and get on with life! We need a STRONG district to enhance our students....afterall, they are taught to make quick, strong decisions all the time...what does it say when their administration fumbles?

3 people like this
Posted by Ted Smallpiece
a resident of Happy Valley
on Dec 27, 2018 at 2:30 pm

It's really quite a mystery why Chabot-Las Positas can't attract top-shelf talent to its president's position...violating a state act, no long-term plan, wrong consultant. Hmmm, maybe its the, I don't know, Board?

As the great band Ambrosia once sang," Make a wish, baby, So we could wash away the past, So that we may start anew."


Like this comment
Posted by Jannett Jackson
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Dec 28, 2018 at 11:45 pm

The following quote from an article in the East Bay Times, show that Las Positas is subject to the same leftist politics that are damaging so many other college campus'. Not certain if this controversy is playing any role in the problems selecting a new chancellor.

Jackson received a vote of no confidence from the Chabot Academic and Faculty Senate in November.

The no confidence resolution cited several concerns, including that Jackson and her senior staffers failed to respond “in a timely manner to college needs,” had an “unsupportive” management style and micromanaged the hiring process.

The 4½-page resolution listed issues that Andrew Pierson, a psychology professor and faculty senate member at Chabot, earlier said taken together detail a “pattern of unresponsiveness and mismanagement by the district chancellor specifically, but also includes detailed concerns about other district upper management.”

The tipping point was an Oct. 24 vote by the district’s trustees to stop short of declaring Chabot-Las Positas a “sanctuary” district, Pierson said after the no confidence vote. The board instead passed a resolution supporting the California Values Act, which says schools will be “safe spaces” for undocumented students.

The sanctuary designation was backed by Chabot faculty, students and classified employees in a May resolution. But the chancellor would not put the resolution on trustees’ agenda until months later, on Oct. 24, according to the no confidence resolution.

District trustees announced their support for Jackson at their Dec. 5 meeting following the no confidence vote. They also voted to designate both Chabot and Las Positas colleges as sanctuary campuses at the same meeting.

Incoming interim chancellor Fallo retired as superintendent/president of El Camino College in 2016 after 21 years. He most recently was interim chancellor for South Orange County Community College District, appointed to that job last November. He previously was acting and interim chancellor and vice chancellor of business services at Los Angeles Community College District.

Jackson was chancellor of the community college district for five years. Her total annual compensation was $291,396.

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