Martinez files grievance against three teachers
Published: Monday, December 19, 2011
Updated: Wednesday, December 21, 2011 17:12
President Ted Martinez has filed a grievance against three professors, whom he claims have been critical of him, shocking campus staff and faculty and causing one Board of Trustee member to be critical of him at the latest board meeting.
Martinez filed the complaint with Human Resources last month against professors Mike Javanmard, economics, Colin Young, political science, and Adam Wetsman, anthropology, charging that the three created a hostile working environment, unfair treatment, character defamation and causing distress that resulted in a minor stroke, according to Professor Vann Priest, who teaches physics at the college.
Martinez, who was hired in June of 2007, filed the complaint last month, according to Marketing and Communications Director Susan Herney.
The three professors were notified of the complaint last month and hearings have already been held as 20 witnesses either have or will be called to give testimony. Priest is one of the 20 and has already appeared before the appointed corporate labor law attorney Angela Reddock, who is acting as a third party in the investigation.
It was Reddock's hiring that finally caught the eye of Board member Madeline Shapiro at the Dec. 14 Trustee meeting.
At its November meeting, the Board was asked to approve a payment not to exceed $5,000 on an "as needed basis" for the hiring of Reddock.
Shapiro issued the following statement at the end of the December meeting:
"I want to read an item from the October agenda. It says 'Angela Reddock-To assist Human Resources Department of assign tasks on the "as needed basis'." Payment not to exceed $5,000 from General Fund.' You know, reading this as a Board member, it seemed like 'Oh, Human Resources needs a little bit of extra help.' It seemed so innocent. Had I known what this really was I would not have voted for this, and I want to make a public statement about that.
"When I was elected two years ago, I did it for one reason and that was to bring to this college a more unified campus with people working together. I don't see that happening. I do not see that happening when-usually I get a little alert about an article in the newspaper, but the recent one in the Whittier Daily News I got no alert about, but I take the Whittier Daily News.
"I don't think the problems on this campus have to do with students or staff or faculty-or deans or most administrators, but I do think it has to do with the leadership. And I 'm very unhappy with what has transpired."
Neither Martinez nor the administration have commented on the grievance or its proceedings.
Herney told El Paisano, "Unfortunately, because this is a confidential personnel matter that is currently being investigated, and on advice of counsel, we are not able to comment at this time."
However, some of the witnesses have discussed the proceedings even through the college has told them not to repeat any of the happenings.
Priest has been outspoken about the proceedings and the charges and has posted information via email, Facebook and websites.
Student Affairs Dean Daryll Foster, who is also the district compliance officer, said that any breach of confidentiality could jeopardize the integrity of the investigation. He also said that persons who discuss the investigation and its process may possibly expose themselves to be fined.
But Priest said that Reddock simply encouraged that "I keep the proceedings secret. But it was not required of me. I declined her request."
After Reddock is finished with the interviews, she will report her findings to Foster and he will present a report to the Board, which will act upon the report's findings.
"What the community doesn't know is what alleged event or events precipitated the charges from Superintendent Ted Martinez. I do not know of nor can I imagine any incident involving my colleagues, Adam Wetsman, Colin Young, and Mike Javanmard, that could have led to the charges. What I find interesting is that all three are outspoken leaders in the Rio Hondo College Faculty Association," Priest said.
Young is president of the college's Faculty Association, Wetsman is past president and negotiations chair and Javanmard is the political action committee chair.
Priest also said that "This is another example of the college administration going after outspoken members of the Rio Hondo College community, who have worked tirelessly for the faculty, students and the college as a whole."
He brought out that several staff members have been dismissed by the administration.
"The only thing they have in common is that they challenged the administration. The charges against my colleagues are a continuation of the attempts to silence strong leaders who are looking out for what is best for all," he said.