Peralta trustees appeal lawsuit by Oakland Tribune owners

By Reginald James Editor

The Peralta Board of Trustees voted to appeal a judge's decision forcing the community college district to release a report on Chancellor Elihu Harris' role in awarding a no-bid contract to a former business partner at its March 23 board meeting.

The Board voted 6-1 to appeal the BANG Vs. PCCD decision (the ruling ordering Peralta to make the district's Inspector General's report public.) Trustee Bill Withrow (Area 1-Alameda) voted against the decision, Board President Abel Guillen announced during the report of closed session actions.

The lawsuit (BANG v. PCCD, Alameda County Superior Court Case No. RG 09-480017) has appeared on the Board's closed session agenda for several meetings. Alameda County Superior Court Judge Frank Roesch ordered Peralta to release a censored version of the document, but district officials refused, according to the Oakland Tribune.

The Office of the General Inspector website states, "Draft reports cannot be released to the public until finalized and authorized by the Peralta Governing Board of Trustees."

Trustees opted not to renew Harris' contract at a January meeting. The March 23 closed session agenda also had an item to consider appointing an interim Chancellor, but the board did not take action. The Chancellor search commmittee meets this Friday, Guillen later announced.

At the meeting, the Board also voted to authorize the Chancellor to notify eight staff at the Laney College Childcare Center that they will likely be laid off. Students, faculty, staff and parents protested the budget cuts at the Laney Children's Center -- as well as the proposed closure of the COA Children's Center-- suggesting officials "Chop from the Top."

Correction: According to the Oakland Tribune, through January, Peralta has spent nearly $100,000 defending itself against BANG Peralta has spent $100,000 defending itself against BANG in January alone.

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