Chancellor Reece Placed on Administrative Leave Again As Court Orders College District to Release Documents

Photo+courtesy+of+Joe+Gratz+via+Flickr.

Joe Gratz

Photo courtesy of Joe Gratz via Flickr.

Andrea Madison, Editor-in-Chief

At a special meeting on Feb. 2, the Contra Costa Community College District (4CD) Governing Board voted unanimously to place Chancellor Bryan Reece on paid administrative leave. Executive Vice Chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh has been appointed acting chancellor in the wake of the board’s decision, which marks the second time Reece has been put on administrative leave since last September, due to an unspecified “personnel matter.”

A subsequent board vote on September 30, 2021, reinstated Reece as chancellor.

The news of Chancellor Reece’s second leave comes after the Contra Costa County Superior Court delivered a tentative ruling on a writ of mandate directed at 4CD on Jan. 28, requiring the disclosure of documents the college district had previously refused to provide.

The petition for the release of the documents was initiated in October by the district’s executive vice chancellor for administrative services, Eugene Huff, chief human resources officer Diogenes Shipp, and former chief financial officer Jonah Nicholas.

The petition sought the release of a series of documents, under the California Public Records Act (CPRA), which pertained to an independent investigator’s report – known as the “Armijo report” – detailing complaints made by Huff, Shipp and Nicholas.

The writ of mandate also sought information regarding other possible complaints against Chancellor Reece, as well as documents related to an investigation that Reece allegedly terminated involving a district employee. The employee was accused of paying students to drop classes after the drop deadline in order to ensure he could still teach the course.

According to the recent court order, the allegation against the district employee stating that he improperly paid students to attend his courses is “substantial,” while the accusation of a public employee working with the chancellor to obstruct and intimidate an investigation and its investigators is “even more substantial.”

The writ of mandate was “granted in part and denied in part,” as stated by the order. Petitioners Huff, Shipp and Nicholas have also been ordered to provide an accounting of attorney fees to the court.

Because they succeeded in getting most of their CPRA requests approved, the court is mandated to award the petitioners the attorney fees and costs.

The court will decide whether to release the Armijo report after its submission for private review before a judge in a hearing scheduled for Feb. 4.