Last night, the Governing Board of Southwestern College played host to a packed house for its sudden evaluation of Superintendent Raj Chopra. Every spectator seat was filled to capacity with teachers, students, incoming board members Tim Nader and Norma Hernandez, and outspoken members of the public. Campus police were forced to turn some away due to safety regulations.
It began with Oral Communications - when people are allowed to speak their piece. Many did - including several new faces: students, teachers, and members of the public - and most gave the same message:
"It's wrong to shove this evaluation down the throat of the college, and it seems a blatant attempt by the outgoing board members - Salcido and Dominguez - to affect a change that the new board should undertake."
The board then retired behind closed doors, which is the policy for all personnel matters. After about two and a half hours, they returned to a still-full room. An attorney for the district read their action. To paraphrase broadly:
"The board has decided that Dr. Chopra's current contract will continue as it is, and no other change will take place."
They then adjourned with no other words and left.
This appears to be the second option I described as possible in the last column: allowing any action regarding Dr. Chopra's contract to be left for the incoming board. But several oddities trouble me - and many others that were there.
Dr. Chopra appeared to be gloating early in the meeting, though by the end, he did seem a little worse for wear.
The agenda for next week's actual GB meeting has been changed to include an item regarding Dr. Chopra's evaluation. This might hint at a further evaluation to come. I am not certain, but I believe that the attorney stated that the evaluation tonight covered the period up to August of this year - not including September and October, which is when some of the truly questionable actions of his has taken place - including actively fundraising for incumbents Dominguez, Salcido, and Valladolid. This seems odd to me, and it was noted that this seems very curious.
Allow me to state for the record: I may very likely be wrong about the dates mentioned. If I am, please correct me, and I will make the edits to this blog.
Lastly, there is the question of why? Why did this need to be done now? There was no urgency to have a meeting that ended with "no other action." Surely Dr. Chopra's evaluation could have been discussed in closed-door session before next week's regular board meeting. So what was the point?
Given the fact that this lame-duck board has already called one "special" meeting on Dr. Chopra's behalf, it is no stretch to assume that they might call another before the outgoing incumbents terms end at the end of November.
Is this a game? And why are they playing it? Let's have your theories and ideas in the comments section below.