District Reprimands Dean of Counseling

Cresencio Rodriguez

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The Rampage has learned that Monica Cuevas, Dean of Counseling, has been reprimanded, according to a management memo sent to the Board of Trustees on Jan. 6, 2016.

The Fresno City College Dean of Counseling received a “strongly worded letter of reprimand” for her actions leading to accusations of discrimination against a student, the Rampage has learned through documents it has obtained.

References to the letter to Monica Cuevas are contained in a Jan. 6, 2016 management memo to the members of the State Center Community College board of trustees.

“Your behavior has caused the district [and] college to be viewed by this student, employees and members of the public in a manner that does not exemplify the high moral and ethical expectations the district [and] college has for its administrators,” the letter states, according to the Jan. 6 memo, which was obtained by the Rampage.

The Rampage made numerous attempts, including using Freedom of Information Act requests to acquire information from the district but was stalled on every front.

When the district finally granted the Rampage’s request for communication related to the matter of Monica Cuevas on April 29, several parts of memos released to the Rampage, including the Jan. 6 memo, were redacted.

Lucy Ruiz, SCCCD Director of Legislative Services, cited protection of “confidential personnel and legal matter[s].”

However, the Rampage obtained brief, un-redacted copies of the memo where communication with Cuevas regarding the matter is mentioned.

Cuevas is reportedly directed to be “fair, honest, straightforward, trustworthy, dispassionate and unprejudiced in all future district [and] college dealings.”

“Failure to [comply with district orders] may result in disciplinary action up to and including termination,” according to the memo.

The memo to the board suggests that the main issue between Cuevas and her accuser remain unresolved. It was also noted that because district money was not involved in the conflict, “the money dispute may end up in a small claims court”, likely at the expense of the two parties.

The matter stems from a petition filed by a Fresno City College student in July 2015, alleging that Cuevas had discriminated against her and threatened her when she demanded repayment of a loan she made to the dean of counseling back in March 2013.

In September 2015, the district revealed that it had hired a private investigator to look into the case that had been looming in the district for about two years.

As reported by the Rampage, several district and college administrators had knowledge of the reasons for disagreement between Cuevas and the student, before any formal complaint was filed.

Cuevas and the student reportedly met in an attempt to reach a solution to the financial matter, but nothing was achieved.

After several interventions on behalf of the student, the issue was taken to the former college president, Tony Cantu and Bill Stewart, the interim chancellor at the time.

The student finally filed the complaint with the State Chancellor’s office in July 2015 and distributed the grievance to the board of trustees, the college’s interim president and the SCCCD chancellor.

In October, the Rampage was led to believe that the investigator’s findings in the case would be released by the end of that month; nothing was released.

In an attempt to obtain the investigator’s report, the district denied Rampage requests under the Freedom of Information Act.

In a letter sent to the Rampage in February, the district’s Vice-Chancellor of Finance and Education, Edwin Eng, said any release of the investigator’s report would be “an unwarranted invasion of privacy”.

The investigator’s findings remain undisclosed.

Tempering the tone of the reprimand, the memo to the board noted Cuevas’s clean, 18-year employment with the district.

The memo reads, “[Cuevas] has been an exemplary employee of the district for 18 years with a spotless record.”