Saturday, July 29, 2006

CSEA Finds Margaret Quinones Abusive and Aggressive

In a letter from Chapter 36 to Dave Low at the California School Employees Association (CSEA) Governmental Relations Office in Sacramento, sent in April 2004, the Santa Monica College CSEA Executive Board opposed SMC board member Margaret Quinones' potential appointment to the California Community College Board of Governors. The CSEA felt they were "morally bound" to describe its personal experience with Quinones and her alleged behavior, which it "questioned as inappropriate." Philip Hendricks, the President of the CSEA Chapter 36 on behalf of the CSEA Executive Board, wrote the following:

To our regret Ms Quinones failed to remotely live up to her assurances and proceeded after a brief period, to consistently behave abusively and aggressively against classified staff without regard for realistic considerations or appropriate behavior.

Hendricks goes on to add:

We have no reason to expect that her attitude or behavior would be any different on the CCCBOG and we recommend that you carefully examine her record and credentials with a view toward recommending to our legislative allies that they oppose her appointment to the California Community College Board of Governors.

Margaret Quinones at SMC Board of Trustees Meeting April 10, 2006
Margaret Quinones at SMC Board of Trustees Meeting (April 10, 2006)

Despite the CSEA's objections, Governor Schwarzenegger appointed Quinones to the Board of Governors, where she sits alongside former SMC counselor, administrator, and consultant, Benita Haley. According to SMC News and Events for April 29, 2006:

Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced today (April 29) he has appointed former SMC counselor and administrator Benita Haley to the California Community Colleges Board of Governors. She was appointed to a two-year term. The appointment comes less than three weeks after Schwarzenegger named SMC Board of Trustees Chair Dr. Margaret Quiñones to the 17-member board.

The Board of Governors oversees and makes policies for the statewide community college system, the largest higher education system in the world with 2.8 million students at 109 campuses.

“Benita Haley has years of experience as a counselor, former administrator and government relations expert,” said SMC President Dr. Piedad F. Robertson. “She will be an asset to the Board of Governors.”

On or about June 9, 2004, the Executive Committee, in preparation with the president, presented an action item to the Classified Senate concerning congratulatory letters to the two women.
Action Item No. 3 read as follows:

It is recommended that the Classified Senate review and approve the following congratulatory letters to Dr. Margaret Quiñones and Benita Haley

Comment: The Executive Committee, respectfully request that the Classified Senate approve the following letters to Dr. Margaret Quiñones and Benita Haley for their recent appointment by Governor Schwarzenegger to the Board of Governors.


Former President Robertson's judgments and opinions held little weight with the SMC Classified Senate, who gave her a vote of no confidence. In a
Classified Senate Resolution of no confidence in the current President/Superintendent of Santa Monica College (Adopted: May 28, 2003), the Classified Senate found that Robertson lacked credible or transparent responses and that her actions held contempt for the college. The Classified Senate further alleges that "decisions made by the President/Superintendent have and continue to result in damage to the mission of this college and have harmed student access to education as a result of reductions and eliminations made outside the scope of shared governance." Of course their "grave concerns" were either "ignored or treated with contempt."

In the Classified Senate's Call to Action, they sought among their relief a request for a "forensic audit from the state" as set forth below:

Because there has been no transparency at the college for some time regarding budgetary matters it is imperative that the college be audited so that the entire community can know with certainty where the college is financially and what actual resources it has with which to move forward.

They claimed that it would be "irresponsible" for the Board to reward Robertson's actions, "given the widespread dissatisfaction with her performance leading up to and continuing through this budget crisis." Robertson has since left the college to take over the Education Commission of the States (ECS) in Denver, Colorado. The ECS, however, has allegedly been suffering from Robertson's leadership as well, struggling with top-level resignations and financial problems. See our related blog article:
Our Education: Where Does All the Money Go? To see the full CSEA letter in Adobe PDF format, click HERE. To view Margaret Quinones' SMC Board of Trustees 2004 re-election campaign contributions, click on either PART 1 or PART 2.

-- Des Manttari,
Editor-in-Chief,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP


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