Friday, December 09, 2005

Goodwill and Mutual Respect Needed at SMC

Yet another email to Robert Sammis, Vice-President of Planning and Development, who has failed to respond to my repeated requests for public records belonging to Santa Monica College. As former SMC President Piedad Robertson stated on or about August 21, 2003, "We have a choice. We can dwell in the past and continue tensions that will affect this institution or we can move forward cooperatively – even with differences of opinion." Perhaps the "goodwill & mutual respect needed" by SMC should begin first and foremost with one of its concerned students.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2005: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

--------------MY EMAIL TO ROBERT SAMMIS------------------------

DECEMBER 9, 2005

Dear Mr. Sammis,

Although you promised, via email, on December 5, 2005, to "arrange for a time later in the week to complete the District's response," you have in fact not responded at all to me. Again, when will we be allowed to inspect vital public records belonging to Santa Monica College? At this point, it seems that you are either unable or unwilling to perform your self-appointed duties as public records liaison for the school. Accordingly, you should assign this task to someone else who will be less dilatory and more responsive. I cannot stress enough that pursuant to the California Public Records Act, access to information is to be immediate and that delays should not be undertaken to withhold information.

Regarding Professor Jim Keeshen, I would like to clarify several issues. First, I have heard from several reliable sources at SMC that you informed him that I told you that he had in his possession computers belonging to the school. I have thoroughly reviewed my notes from our conversations and collaborated those with my witnesses who were present at our three meetings. I have NEVER discussed with you any items belonging to the school in Mr. Keeshen's alleged possession. If you used me for a fishing expedition to discover what, if any, items, including computers, he may have been granted permission to use by the District, I do not appreciate you blaming me for this. This has only caused further friction with one of the professors at this school which I had previously had a productive professional relationship and who I rely on to provide me an education at SMC. I would appreciate it if you do not make statements to him, which are simply not true.

Additionally, you informed me that Prof. Keeshen had not filed the mandatory sabbatical report when I have discovered from sources within the school that he did file this report. Has someone now removed this report from Prof. Keeshen's file? Accordingly, the District should produce the original report.

Also, the Studio Animatics contract you provided me for 2001 has a forged signature. This is not Prof. Keeshen's signature on page 2. I would like to know who filled this consultant contract out and forged his signature on the bottom of the page.

Additionally, I have received no documentation regarding why the ET61 History of Animation ground and online courses were removed from SMC's course rosters for the Academy of Entertainment and Technology. As you are well aware, Prof. Keeshen and I worked hard to provide an important education for the students at SMC, he as the professor and me as his teaching assistant. This class was a vital foundational course for animation students and well received by the students. First, I was removed from working with Mr. Keeshen at a time when he was overwhelmed with personal matters. Then, shortly thereafter, my copyrights were infringed without justification by the school. Finally, Prof. Keeshen is no longer allowed to teach the course. I find all of this harassing and unnecessary on the part of Santa Monica College.

Not only did I free up Prof. Keeshen's valuable time to teach the students by automating the course quizzes and assignments in his ET2 and ET61 ground course with eCompanion, but I provided him more time to prepare his lectures by aiding him in grading of his students' work. Additionally, we were exploring other avenues to provide more cost effective distance education services to the school by my programming and researching an alternative to eCollege's over-priced and antiquated third party vendor services by and through open source and free alternative services.

If you review the Distance Education minutes, you will find that eCollege was considered a "nightmare" and that the Distance Education Committee was desperately seeking alternatives for SMC. The alternatives I was working on would have saved thousands of dollars for the school in web hosting for, the payments in online seats, and the overall services they provided to the school. This open source software which we had a prototype for, would have been easily applied to all the online courses taught at SMC in addition to the eCompanion online supplements for ground courses. Is the school not interested in saving taxpayer dollars and aiding its professors and students with research that is more cost-efficient with a service which provides more features than that currently used?

As you well know, Winniphred Stone has left her position as Dean of Distance Education effective this September. Julie Yarrish, according to my sources, is currently applying for positions at other colleges and universities. Now, Professor Keeshen, the only other SMC employee thoroughly familiar with distance education courses is no longer allowed to teach them. I was perhaps the one student at SMC who had the most experience in working with online courses, both in programming them, and in administering them as Prof. Keeshen's assistant for over a year. As SMC has stated in several documents, distance education is one of the ways the District hopes to recover lost enrollment. Since foreign students pay higher tuition to the school, they are more likely than regular SMC students to take distance education classes online. Why would the school not maximize its potential to draw in these students and aid in declining enrollment? What does SMC now benefit from harassing Professor Keeshen and myself when we have worked so tirelessly and selflessly to improve the quality of education at Santa Monica College? Will you have anyone left who even cares about SMC's distance education program or who fully understands both its potential and its pitfalls?

I leave that for you to decide. But I will ask you to seriously contemplate if making me the alleged enemy of the school I so love and Prof. Keeshen the alleged "scapegoat" and "sacrificial lamb" as he stated is causing more harm to the school in the long run. Will your attempts at trying to build up a case to terminate Prof. Keeshen's employment and to frustrate me from my education really solve the numerous and long-standing problems which SMC faced on its rather embarrassing 2004 Accreditation? I'm sure you realize that those problems will still be there, absent two people who tried to make substantial improvements to our school.

Again, by copy of this email, I request a concrete date from you when we can both begin inspection of documents and receive copies of documents that are long overdue.

Thank you for your prompt response to the following.

Very Truly Yours,
Des Manttari /s/

To: "Phoenix Genesis" RE: When are we going to meet re: CPRA?
Date: Mon, 5 Dec 2005 14:48:36 -0800

As I told you in my last email, today is my first day back to work following my knee surgery. I will review the information that you provide in your email below (as you had promised to provide some weeks ago) and arrange for a time later in the week to complete the District’s response.

Robert Sammis
Vice President, Planning&Development
Santa Monica Community College District

Feel free to link or print this; just include the SAVE SMC URL:

Technorati Tags:
, , , , , , , , , , ,
, , , , , , ,


Post a Comment

<< Home