Koltai to Get Payment of $365,000 in Return for Early Retirement

Times Education Writer

The controversial chancellor of the Los Angeles Community College District will receive a settlement estimated at $365,000 in return for taking early retirement from the job he has held for the last 15 years.

Four of the seven members of the district’s board of trustees had favored firing Chancellor Leslie Koltai, who has been the target of criticism in recent years, particularly because of his support of proposals to help stabilize the financially shaky district by laying off tenured instructors.

Instead, Koltai, 56, announced Sept. 30 that he will leave his post this December, six months before the end of his contract and more than four years earlier than he had planned to retire.


Details of the agreement, released by the board Wednesday, showed that Koltai will continue to receive his $103,000 annual salary until his contract expires June 30.

Additional $52,619

In addition, the district agreed to pay the chancellor $52,619 Jan. 2. This payment, district officials said, will cover vacation pay, a car allowance and an entertainment expense account for the period remaining in his contract.

The settlement also provides Koltai with $23,000 a year for life. If he dies, payments will go to his wife, Katherine Koltai. The payments will begin July 1.

The district will pay $239,000 to an insurance company that will distribute the annual payments to Koltai. If Koltai lives long enough to exhaust the $239,000, the unnamed insurance company will take responsibility for compensating him further.

An additional $8,000 was included to cover the chancellor’s attorney fees for the negotiations.

The three trustees who wanted Koltai to remain--Lindsay Conner, Wallace Albertson and Arthur Bronson--also opposed the settlement. The four board members who favored his ouster--Harold W. Garvin, Wallace Knox, David Lopez-Lee and Julia Wu--voted in favor of the settlement.


The latter four were strongly backed by the district’s faculty union in the June election, and all but Garvin are new to the board. Two veteran trustees who were opposed by the union because of their support of layoffs lost their reelection bids.

“There is an awful lot of guilt in this settlement,” Conner said. “I’ll be darned if I’m going to pay $365,000 to get rid of a person who should have been retained. From my perspective, this settlement adds a second mistake on top of an initial mistake.”

Board President Garvin reacted angrily to the suggestion that the large settlement was made out of guilt.

“I think that’s an insult to the other board members,” he said, adding that he believes that the agreement is “good for Koltai and good for the district. . . . It is a reasonable settlement. I wouldn’t call it very generous.”

Thomas A. Fallo, vice chancellor in charge of business services, was named acting chancellor by the board Wednesday.