Updated: Sep 12, 2020
This District has some serious management challenges which local media outlets have covered at some length. Here are some recent headlines about District leadership and management drawn from local news sources. These stories and my selections from them speak for themselves. The headlines link out to the full stories should you want to read more.
Struggling L.A. Trade Tech headed for fresh start with new president [Los Angeles Times, January 7th, 2020]
Trade-Tech is "a campus that has been bitterly divided over leadership and several scandals. Internal district investigations in 2017 found that college officials had falsified grades in a pilot program to help underprepared students improve their math skills and failed to justify $157,000 they received from 2014 to 2017 through a U.S. Department of Labor grant. College and district officials have denied any wrongdoing." The FBI has launched a criminal investigation into this issue.
"Last year, some Trade-Tech faculty supported a petition of no confidence against then-President Laurence B. Frank accusing him of 'intentionally and repeatedly' misleading faculty about campus scandals and ignoring wrongdoing."
Unfortunately, Trade-Tech is familiar with scandal and leadership failure. Just a few years ago, the former L.A. Trade-Tech foundation head plead guilty to embezzlement.
Pierce College football coach at center of campus housing complaints is placed on leave [Los Angeles Daily News, October 10th, 2019]
"A Pierce College football coach accused of arranging improper housing conditions for athletes and allowing players to live in the campus locker room has been placed on temporary administrative leave pending an internal investigation into his conduct, said the college president late Thursday."
The unfortunate thing about this story is that the individual in question had similar issues in a previous position at another community college district. This wouldn't have happened in a District with a stronger management culture.
This story got national pick-up in a variety of news outlets. Are these the types of stories you want decision-makers in Sacramento and in Washington to read about Los Angeles's community colleges?
L.A. Community College hit with whistleblower complaint over construction bond program [Los Angeles Times, May 9th, 2019]
"Nearly two years ago, David Salazar arrived at the Los Angeles Community College District, ready to oversee a massive $3.3-billion construction bond program that voters had approved for the largest two-year college system in the nation.
The new chief facilities executive was equipped with two master’s degrees and three decades of experience managing building projects for the California State University, Claremont Graduate University and the San Bernardino Community College District. But nothing prepared him for what he said he found in the L.A. college district — sloppy management, fierce backroom politics and entrenched relationships between board trustees and construction interests.
After Salazar raised red flags about cost overruns earlier this year, drawing sharp criticism from some trustees, the L.A. district’s chancellor, Francisco Rodriguez, gave him a notice of termination in March.
Now Salazar has filed a whistleblower complaint with the district, alleging Rodriguez fired him in retaliation for publicly outing problems in the construction program, The Times has learned."
With lawsuits and overspending, another L.A. Community College bond measure sparks controversy [Los Angeles Times, February 4th, 2019]
The Los Angeles Community College District has run into problems with its $9 billion bond program in the past and many of those problems were detailed by the Los Angeles Times in a series of reports in 2012. The reporting in February last year makes it very clear that these challenges still exist, despite reforms.
In this particular case, the lawsuit brought against the District was decided in the District's favor. However, the verdict doesn't dismiss the facts in the case and these facts illustrate the issues with the District's bond program:
Overspending (even though it is contractually allowed)
Biased Request for Proposals (RFP) process
Questionable needs for facilities
An internal District study found that many classrooms, laboratories and offices on all of the campuses were unused much of the time — to a greater degree than the statewide community college average. The study also found that the district was spending $4.36 million annually to maintain the unused space.
Former dean at West Los Angeles College propositioned student for sex for years, lawsuit says [Los Angeles Times, December 7th, 2018]
"A student at West Los Angeles College is suing a former dean at the school who she said sexually harassed her for years when she worked in his office." The abuse continued for years.
L.A. Community College trustees assailed for seating a Latino man over African American women [Los Angeles Times, July 12th, 2018]
"Four of the trustees contacted Thursday said they valued diversity and supported one or more of the African American candidates — but could not get consensus on the fractured board to select any of them in their vote last month."
This District has not had any African American representation on its Board for over 2 years because the Trustees couldn't figure out how to come to a consensus.
1 in 5 L.A. community college students is homeless, survey finds [Los Angeles Times, June 29th, 2017]
In the Fall of 2016, several thousand LACCD students took part in the District's Survey on Food & Housing Insecurity Among Community College Students. The survey asked students to report on their financial hardships, their emotional challenges, and their food and housing needs. Some topline figures:
62.7% of students surveyed experience food insecurity
55% of students surveyed are experiencing some form of housing insecurity
18.6% have experienced homelessness in the past year
The District released results of the survey in June of 2017. Although there were suggestions at the time that the District would build housing in response to the survey results, no housing has been built.
Los Angeles Valley College pays $28,000 in bitcoin ransom to hackers [Los Angeles Times, January 11th, 2017]
"The Los Angeles Community College District paid a $28,000 ransom in bitcoin last week to hackers who took control of a campus email and computer network until a payment was made."