Friday, October 23, 2009

SWC Teachers Suspended after Rally Participation

Last night, four SWC teachers received hand-delivered letters informing them they had been placed on paid academic leave. The letters cite California Penal Code Section 626.4, which empowers the chief administative officer (in this case, President Raj K. Chopra) of a community college to deny his "consent to remain on campus" to anyone who "has willfully disrupted the orderly operation" of the college.

Withdrawal of consent means that instructors Dinorah Guadiana-Costa, Phil Lopez, Janet Mazzarella, and Andrew Rempt cannot step on campus or use their swc email accounts without risking a $500 fine and up to six months in jail. According to 626.4, the period of withdrawal can last up to 14 days or until the President believes that the individuals do not "constitute a substantial and material threat to the orderly operation of the campus."

In the meantime, these four teachers are unable to instruct their students during a critical period of the semester.


  1. Some facts:

    Four teachers at SWC have been put on forced administrative leave immediately after three of them participated alongside students in a protest rally at the college.

    One was rescinded after it was discovered that she had not been present at the rally; a young man was seen taking close-up pictures of the participating teachers and students, an apparent effort to identify them for retaliation.

    Due process usually requires a hearing so people can defend themselves before any such serious action is taken.

    Penal code 626.4 was cited in the letters hand delivered by Jackie Osborne, head of human resources and her Southwestern College police escort as the reason for the summary barring from campus of the four long-time teachers.

    Penal code 626.4 gives the chief administrative officer of a campus the authority to summarily bar any person from campus for up to 14 days without a pre-exclusion hearing, only If the person’s “conduct or words are such as to constitute, or to incite to a substantial and material physical disruption incompatible with the peaceful functioning of the academic institution and of those upon its campus” AND “The person has committed acts illegal under other statutes.” It then goes on to list examples of those acts such as assault, battery, physical intimidation of students and professors attempting to attend class, possession of incendiary or fire bombs etc. Notice that the person has to BOTH cause a substantial and material disruption AND commit illegal acts in addition such as assault and battery.

    The college spokesperson, Mary Gaino is quoted in the UT article as saying that the forced leave is “not related to the rally.”

    A question: Then why cite Penal Code 626.4 which could only apply to the teachers’ free-speech protected actions and comments at the rally?

    Furthermore, deans have been instructed to replace these teachers for the entire semester. The law that the college is perverting only allows up to a 14-day summary barring from campus.

    The college president and his human resources director have both left town immediately following this action. They are apparently incommunicado and not expected back for three weeks.

    Now the college is going after students. At least one student that I am aware of has received a letter warning him of the consequences of speaking out at SWC.

    I believe that this last is also a fact, but some may classify it as opinion: Dr. Chopra and his lackeys including Jackie Osborne must resign for the good of the college.

  2. The community in and outside the college must seize this senseless act of arrogance and oppression as a hand delivered invitation for opportunity to expose the way the college is being run! I guess if we reframe it this way, we can't thank the administration enough for this eloquent display of their criteria for governance.

  3. Rempt is a great teacher, I can't believe the actions taken by the SWC Admin. Boooo!

  4. Now Jean Roesch is sending out an email addressed to the "College Community" claiming that the rally is not the focus of the investigation but "safety and security concerns after the rally had concluded." Is this a case of tell a big enough lie and they'll believe you? Or is it an attempt to poison the well? I think it's an attempt to prepare the public for the lie they're concocting.

  5. As a student effected directly by these forced leaves, I must say that this decision was made with absolutely no regard given to the quality of education being recieved by students. I should think this a factor that should weigh heavily on the minds of the administration of an educational institution, not politics and petty grudges, but again the leaders of our fair college have proven me wrong once again.

    Also, I'm absolutely in concurrence with the astute legal analysis provided above by user "Thomas."

  6. Since one instructor's suspension was lifted because she wasn't even near the rally, how credible in the District's "investigation"?Were the suspensions "knee-jerk" reactions without regard to repercussions to the students? Who is investigating the District?

  7. Talk of criminal charges now as reported at against the Southwestern College Three is preposterous but not surprising if you think about it. After perverting and misapplying the law designed to protect students and faculty by using it to falsely accuse faculty and intimidate students, Chopra has only two choices. He can either admit fault or try to build a fabricated case to support the lies he's already told in order save his own hide from the truth. No laws were broken by the SWC Three.