Lawsuit accuses Pasadena City College of violating open meeting laws
A nonprofit group has filed a lawsuit against Pasadena City College for allegedly breaking state open meetings laws while negotiating the retirement of former President Mark W. Rocha earlier this year.
In the suit, Californians Aware claims that the board of trustees of the two-year college violated the Ralph M. Brown Act by not discussing and taking action on Rocha’s retirement and severance package in public.
The suit asks that the board acknowledge its alleged mistakes, record future closed sessions and rescind Rocha’s nearly $400,000 severance package. The suit also asks that Rocha be ordered to return the money.
In letters sent to Californians Aware and the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, an attorney representing the college denied any Brown Act violations occurred and said discussions about Rocha’s retirement were held in closed session because of concerns over litigation.
The Times had also sent a letter to the college detailing its own concerns over alleged Brown Act violations.
After college officials initially declined to reveal when the board voted on the settlement, board President Anthony Fellow later announced that trustees unanimously approved the deal on Aug. 6. The board had voted in late July to begin exploring a settlement with Rocha, Fellow said.
A lawyer representing the college and Fellow could not be reached for comment.
Rocha was criticized by some faculty and students during his time at Pasadena City College for his management style and for approving the cancellation of a winter session. Tensions at the 26,000-student school were so high that a team of advisors visited the campus and told the administration and faculty that they needed to “find a way to move forward.”
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