Chancellor Backs LACCD Senate

October
1998
Winston Butler, Academic Senate President, LACCD District

In an unprecedented call for the Los Angeles Community College District Board of Trustees to adhere to Title 5 regulations by consulting with the District Academic Senate on academic and professional matters, the State Chancellor has demonstrated that the Chancellor's Office and the Board of Governors will enforce Title 5 regulations and that Boards of Trustees cannot arbitrarily bypass academic senates. Although Chancellor Nussbaum, in his ruling on July 2, 1998, did not concur with all the allegations cited by the LACCD Academic Senate, he did find significant violations in consultation processes and functions in such areas as budget processes, appointment of faculty to committees and institutional reorganization.

In a frantic and unprepared attempt to ward off negative press, possible loss of accreditation, an unqualified fiscal audit and a pending state chancellor audit investigation, the LACCD Board attempted to make districtwide changes that would directly affect academic programs and the ability of the District Academic Senate to continue its functions. The Board president was cited in a Los Angeles Times article as admitting that the Board purposely bypassed the academic senate because of "historic delays" by the academic senate, the standard statement by administration when there is a desire to move an agenda without comment from faculty.

The District Academic Senate, recognizing the Board's actions as a challenge to the shared governance provisions of AB 1725 and as potentially setting statewide precedents, took immediate steps to challenge the Board of Trustees with all the tools at our disposal: support from the state Academic Senate, an investigation by the state chancellor's office, notification to state and local representatives, detailed documentation of all events, and retention of an attorney. The process involved several months of intense effort by the District Academic Senate Executive Committee, which met throughout the summer. The culmination of these efforts was the development of a very positive series of consultation meetings through the month of July with the administration, designees of the Board and the District Academic Senate. The purpose of the meetings was to bring the Board into compliance with Title 5 regulations, and to develop appropriate academic senate input into a process of reform, which everyone in the district recognizes needs to occur.

At this point, we have successfully translated the Board's philosophy of decentralization into a plan that will benefit our students and educational programs, as well as increase the autonomy of local colleges. There is still much work to be done, but we can now proceed in the certainty that collegial consultation will prevail in our district.

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