Early Christmas

Early Christmas

Judge rules PCC must reinstate winter session and pay lost teacher salaries with interest

By André Coleman 12/12/2013

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In a stinging rebuke, the California Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) has ruled that the Pasadena City College Board of Trustees acted illegally when it canceled the school’s winter intersession classes and moved to a trimester calendar after negotiations with a faculty union broke down.

“Based on the foregoing findings of fact and conclusions of law, and the entire record in this case, it is found that the Pasadena Area Community College District violated the Education Employment Relations Act … by unilaterally implementing a trimester calendar,” wrote Administrative Law Judge Alicia Clement in her ruling.

According to Clement, the college must reinstate the winter intersession and provide faculty members back pay with 7 percent interest. The college must also post the PERB ruling in several locations on campus for 30 days. 

The winter session allowed students to take classes between the 16-week spring and winter semesters. The classes were invaluable for students who were unable to take full class loads, but could stay on track to graduate or transfer to a four-year university by taking classes in winter and summer sessions. 

“The PERB ruling identifies the college illegally canceled the winter session and moved the spring semester,” said PCC Faculty Association President Roger Marheine. “The college should reinstate winter, but they have 20 days to appeal and they have said they are going to appeal it. As long as the appeal is pending, there probably won’t be any action.” 
Officials with the college did not return phone calls seeking comment on this story.

Problems began in 2012 after association officials met with the college’s Calendar Committee to set dates for the new academic calendar and discovered that the committee planned to cancel the winter intersession in order to cut $10 million from the district’s budget. The two sides continued disagreeing on the cancellation, but before a conclusion could be reached PCC President Mark Rocha submitted a calendar to the Board of Trustees that eliminated the winter session.
The board approved that calendar, which led to student protests and two votes of no-confidence against Rocha’s administration. 

The ruling comes on the heels of the reinstatement of journalism professor Warren Swil, who was the faculty adviser of the campus newspaper, The Courier, which published several articles critical of Rocha.

Swil was placed on administrative leave after a 43-year-old student filed a sexual harassment claim against the professor and the college, even though the college denied the claim. Critics claimed Swil was removed because of the newspaper’s reporting on the Rocha administration, a claim which college officials have denied.

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