When the Board of Trustees did not renew Deal Susan Bell's contract as scheduled, it triggered a powerful reaction from members of the faculty, students and the "outside" community.
In response, the Board agreed to an independent investigation and set up an "advisory committee" made up of one representative each from the Academic Senate, the Classified Employees, Management/Confidential, the Associated Students and the public.
The representative of the public was John Spanbauer, a member of The Community of Concern for Mendocino College (CCMC). Spanbauer said that he had spent a great deal of time reading all of the available material, including Bell's confidential files (with the permission of Susan Bell) as well as the entire Trustees Handbook (the guidelines for the Board) in order to be fully informed about every aspect of the investigation.
After 6 weeks of working with the Advisory Committee and the Board, Spanbauer has resigned from the process and the the CCMC stated that it would not replace him. Spanbauer said that his input had been "ignored" and that, by limiting the scope and quality of the investigation. The Board of Trustees is cooperating with the administration to cover up the administration's mismanagement.
According to the Spanbauer, the current Board feels that their primary responsibility is "to protect the college," not serve the community. Spanbauer contends that "State law and the Trustee's handbook clearly state that their first responsibility is to the community of which Mendocino College is a part...The board has decided to protect the college and by extension the current administration rather than courageously clean house and institute meaningful change."
At the May 7 Board Meeting, Joan Erickson, Board President, said she was surprised by Spanbaurer's withdrawal. "We've divorced ourselves from the administration and the staff that usually provides us with assistance. I don't know how much fairer we could be," she said.
To the contrary, the CCMC contends that the process is rigged so that it only appears to be a full review: "While, our representative (Spanbauer) was largely ignored, the subcommittee received self-serving correspondence from the President, the Vice President and the Director of Personnel that resulted in significant changes in the content of the investigation. The overall effect of these changes has been to narrow the scope of the investigation, and exclude those allegations that are potentially the most significant of all."
President Ehmann was quoted as saying that the administration "doesn't have anything to gain unless there is an objective and competent review of the allegations."
CCMC aims at November Board election
When asked if the CCMC was disbanding, a member of the group said they would continue to be active: "We intend to put our efforts into seeing that the Mendocino College Board of Trustees includes people who are independent and responsible guardians of the public trust. We are going to encourage new candidates to run for the three open Board seats in November."
People interested in electing new Board members are invited to join the CCMC at a meeting on Sunday, June 1, at 3 p.m. in Todd Grove Park.
Copyright Mendocino College Eagle 1997
Permission granted to excerpt or use this article if source is cited.