No Student Trustee on Board
February 21, 2017
The board of trustees for the State Center Community College District has had no student trustee or representation since the fall of 2016, according to the president of the Associated Student Government at Reedley College as well as the Fresno City College student who has been acting as the unofficial trustee.
Scott Chapman [ASG president at Reedley] and Kaura Lopez, [acting trustee for FCC] say that this violates Education Code and should be remedied.
The student trustee acts as the representative between the students of the campus and the district’s board of trustees. Policies are still being passed by the board of trustees at the district offices but without any student representation.
This goes against board code.
According to the California Education Code Article 3 Organization of District Boards, [72022-72036.5], “The governing board of each community college district shall order the inclusion within the membership of the governing board, in addition to the number of members otherwise prescribed, of one or more non voting students.”
The code explains that “these students shall have the right to attend each and all meetings of the governing board, except that student members shall not have the right, or be afforded the opportunity, to attend executive sessions of the governing board.”
Lopez, acting trustee for FCC, said the problems started because she is not recognized by the board of trustees because of how she gained the position.
“I did not run last semester,” she said. “So I am in an appointed position by the senate.”
Lopez said she had personal issues which caused her to not run for the trustee position last semester. But she was asked to fill the position as student trustee when the candidate who ran for it failed to get enough votes to qualify to run for the position.
“According to board policy, apparently I am unofficial because I am in an appointed position instead of an elected position,” she said. “So I am not allowed to sit on the board of trustees.”
Kou Xiong, former president of the ASG at FCC said that this issue had stemmed from last semester and that Paul Parnell, the SCCCD chancellor had known about the vacancy and had not done anything to hold a special election which only he can authorize.
“From the information I got,” Xiong said, “Brandon Mclaughlin [ASG vice president] emailed the chancellor and got a response from the chancellor that he knew about the vacancy.”
Xiong said that the problems experienced by Lopez, the interim trustee, had never happened in the past.
“From information I got from Interim Dean Sean Henderson, when there was a vacancy within the student trustee position, we appointed the student trustee and the board usually recognized that student trustee,” he said. “But this year it was different.”
With FCC’s student trustee seat vacant, the responsibility would have fallen on the Reedley College student trustee, according Reedley’s ASG President, Scott Chapman. The only problem is that Reedley College’s trustee was recalled last semester.
“Our previous trustee, Brenda Fuentes, had a car accident and she was no longer able fulfill the role,” Chapman said.
The Reedley College ASG couldn’t wait any longer for Fuentes’ recovery, and with no way to contact her, the organization held a recall in December, Chapman said.
“It was recorded in this last board meeting,” Chapman said. “We now have a vacancy on the board of trustees.”
John Leal, president of the board of trustees, said he was unaware of the lack of student representatives.
“I didn’t know that the positions were vacant at the time,” Leal said, adding that he was operating under the assumption that Fuentes was still the acting Trustee of Reedley College
“We welcomed her back; we didn’t know anything about a recall,” Leal said. “l wasn’t aware of the fact that it would be impossible for her to come back and act in that seat.”
But Xiong said he was concerned that the members of the board had not noticed the vacancy in the position.
“I don’t know [how did they not know]; it’s a simple turning your head to left and seeing that there is a vacancy there,” he said.
Xiong said the problem is significant and should addressed.
“At this point that there is no student involved with the board,” Xiong said.
Chapman said a special election is taking place at Reedley College this week to fill the student trustee position to represent both colleges