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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / Former PCC President Rocha Will Have to Pay PCC $403,826.55

Former PCC President Rocha Will Have to Pay PCC $403,826.55

by Pasadena Independent
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Mark Rocha. – File Photo by Terry Miller


Trustees Broke Open Government Laws When They Made Deal in Closed Session Meeting

Los Angeles County Superior Court judge Joanne O’Donnell rejected a $403,000 resignation contract with former embattled Pasadena City College President Mark Rocha Wednesday after deciding the board of trustees broke open government laws when they made the deal in a closed session meeting.

Rocha, who had been under considerable fire last year for a number of remarks, resigned and got a whopping 18 months of severance pay in August. However, it has been revealed that the abrupt resignation and disbursement came about as a result of Rocha threatening litigation against the board of trustees because of a board member’s comments to the press.

Judge Joanne O’Donnell’s ruling means Rocha will have to repay PCC $403,826.55

Rocha left PCC last August after a turbulent time at the college.

The lawsuit to overturn the payout was set by Californians Aware, a nonprofit501c .

Californians Aware originally filed the suit against the board in September 2014.

Kelly Aviles, Californians Aware’s legal representative in this case, told the PCC Courier that she was pleased by the outcome of the case.

“We can only make sure that PCC follows the right process,” Aviles said. “Far too often are these decisions made without properly disclosing what the closed session items are. That is usually because the organization wants to do this without anyone knowing.”

It is duly noted that Dr. Rocha’s time at PCC was peppered with considerable controversy almost from the time he was introduced five years ago. From the vote of no confidence; to the publicly humiliating way he and others handled the commencement speaker fiasco last year.
The Board of Trustees was heavily criticized for inviting Oscar-winning alumnus Dustin Lance Black to deliver the commencement address, then rescinding it over concerns about an illegally obtained sex video featuring the screenwriter. They invited him again and Black spoke.

Rocha has consistently let the school be in the public eye, but for the wrong reasons. A negative stain has been etched on the walls of PCC.
Faculty had taken two no-confidence votes in him and conducted an online review of Rocha’s leadership that produced scathing results, with most respondents saying he had done a poor job of guiding the school.
“Fascist approach to leadership,” one wrote. “Rocha is destroying PCC,” another said, according to a report in the LA Times.

PCC gave itself a “black eye” according to a Los Angeles Times report over the rescinded commencement speech invitation to Oscar-winning screenwriter Dustin Lance Black, it announced that the replacement commencement speaker would be Dr. Eric Walsh, Pasadena’s director of public health. Only to discover that Walsh was vehemently anti-gay. Black eye indeed, for Pasadena too. Walsh was placed on paid administrative leave and the story got even more complicated.

The public embarrassment of the Walsh saga combined with the anti-gay slings and arrows pointed in the direction of actor Dustin Black and then the re-invitation, which was accepted by Black in the eleventh hour, closed a dark chapter on the campus.
Rocha was appointed president of PCC in 2010. In October, the PCC Board of Trustees voted unanimously to extend Rocha’s contract through 2017 and raise his salary by $10,000 to $254,135 a year starting on July 1.

We requested more information from the Interim Superintendent, Robert Miller. David Steinman returned our request via email on behalf of Dr. Miller, saying only:

“The Board is aware of the Court’s ruling and is considering next steps. The Board cannot comment further as the matter concerns pending litigation.”

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