Openletter to Tony Latroica and Mendocino College:

The Investigation That Wasn't

By Larry MacLeitch
October 9, l997

I received a letter from Tony Latronica (Coordinator, Work Experience) asking me to apologize for accusing the administration of misappropriating EOPS funds. He noted that the Chancellor's office had come up with nothing substantial in their investigation of administration's handling of EOPS funds. Here's my response.

Yes an "investigator" visited the campus EOPS Dept. this past August. He spent less than 2 hours interviewing three employees. The 'investigator' chose not to speak with any members of the EOPS Advisory Committee of which I am chairperson. This committee composed of college personnel and community members is the only state mandated fiscal oversight committee on campus. (And no one on the committee was contacted?)

The investigator stated the 'investigation' would be limited to 1995 and 1996. This, by the way, was a timeframe which wouldn't allow for the misuse of EOPS Categorical funding because by then any monies above a bare bones survival to EOPS were already gone. The 'investigator' also told EOPS that to be in compliance with state guidelines it must immediately institute an outreach program. Something that EOPS has been trying to do for years, but that the District has refused to fund. Apparently now- after over a decade-the money for outreach will suddenly be available.

Tony,zx I invite you and any other members of the college community to meet with me or the Advisory Committee to hear the facts and see the documentation of our position.

No communication to the Administration or Board of Trustees relative to EOPS funding has gone forward without a unanimous vote by the EOPS Advisory Committee. The Board has never responded to our communications and our efforts to obtain even less than adequate funding from the Administration has each year been a long and difficult process.

Neither I or the EOPS Advisory committee has any reason to issue an apology, as you asked. I personally remain as convinced as ever that the District has, until recent years, systematically misused EOPS monies. In my opinion if an apology is due it would be to years of EOPS students and potential EOPS students.. Students who could have had what the citizens of California intended when their representatives in Sacramento created the program.

A program that could have done so much more to enrich, support and encourage the poor and disadvantaged of our community.

One last thought-a number of college faculty and staff have voiced their support of the EOPS program and I wish to thank them for that support. And to those Social Darwinists (including you, Tony) who have told me that the poor or disadvantaged should not get 'extra' help or be treated as 'special' in any way., I want to offer the following clarification:

The college is reimbursed by the state for all students (EOPS or not) at the same dollar amount. In short, EOPS students produce the same revenue as everyone else. EOPS categorical funding was set up on the principle that the state would pay community colleges additional dollars for at-risk students. This money was clearly specified to provide additional services-services 'above and beyond' those already provided. So while EOPS is supposed to receive extra support, nothing is taken from other students, faculty or staff by a properly run EOPS program-not salary increases, campus improvements or any of the other arguments used on campus against proper EOPS funding.

EOPS students generate more state money than other students. To apply for and then accept this money and then argue philosophically against providing additional services is in my mind very unfortunate.

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