Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Santa Monica College Fails to Uphold the Law

Yet another email response to Robert Sammis in his capacity as both legal counsel and vice president of planning and development for Santa Monica College. Each day that goes by, SMC and Sammis are continuing to fail to uphold its student rights and the Constitution, to which it is both legally and morally bound. Both President Chui L. Tsang and the SMC Board of Trustees, continue to ratify Sammis' actions and inactions by its perpetual silence. Since Sammis is blatantly denying the fact that I have requested a hearing date up to and including July 31, 2006, I have had to bold this date in my email to him to make myself crystal clear. If SMC does not give me an appeal hearing by July 31, 2006, the suspension should be null and void and I can move the court for relief if necessary.

-- Des Manttari,
Phoenix Genesis

(c) 2006: Phoenix Genesis/MBS LP

------------------- YET ANOTHER EMAIL TO ROBERT SAMMIS -------------


July 25, 2006


Dear Mr. Sammis,

In your recent email response to me earlier today, you wrote in relevant part: "The District will proceed with the suspension hearing." You also claimed that I have failed to provide you with "specific dates" which is a misrepresentation of fact. You further wrote: "How difficult can it be to provide such information." You also indicated that you are representing the District regarding my suspension to the hearing committee.

I have provided dates for the suspension hearing up to and including July 31, 2006. I have provided these dates via email, certified mail, and public notice to the District. I have additionally provided these dates in multiple correspondences. It is the District that fails to tell me precisely which date between the time I first gave sufficient notice (July 20, 2006) and July 31, 2006 (the last available date for the District to move forward with a hearing) it wishes to choose. Since we are running out of time, as even you indicated, please immediately provide me with the date for the hearing between now and July 31, 2006.

Furthermore, I have indicated in writing that we need more than one day to hold the suspension hearing. Moreover, I have previously provided the District with tentative dates, up to the first week of July, which the District never complied with. Accordingly, my offer to extend the time to July 31, 2006 is more than generous at this point. The District has had more than enough time to gather its witnesses (if any) and prepare its evidence (if any). Your repeated attempts to stall for time do not grant you any further extension under the law. To make myself extremely clear, I will not grant any extension of time for a suspension appeal hearing after July 31, 2006. Either the District will move forward or it will dismiss the suspension accordingly.

As to your statement, "How difficult can it be to provide such information," that is a question the District should ask itself. I have written over and over again for almost one entire year for inspection of my student disciplinary files. To date, the District has refused to comply with the laws under the California Education Code, FERPA, and its own written policies. Please provide a date, prior to July 31, 2006, whereby both me and my written authorized representative, Stephen E. Drury, can view these records held in the Office of Judicial Affairs, and controlled by Campus Disciplinarian, Judith Penchansky.

I have repeatedly written the District regarding the release of records and documents in its possession that it has referenced or otherwise knows, or should know, exists in my disciplinary files. To date, the District is in violation of the law for its refusal to disclose these records. In fact, you made further misrepresentations of the truth when you indicated both orally and in writing to me that there were no such records, yet subsequently produced quite a few. Accordingly, you have deprived me of timely notice and once again violated the law. Please provide me with a date prior to July 31, 2006 when the District intends to release the remainder of these records and documents.

In the same vein, I have repeatedly sought in writing, including through my June 6, 2006 appeal, to obtain the names and titles of the allegedly impartial appeal hearing committee. As previously indicated, this information was promptly disclosed, upon request, to at least one other student who was suspended by the District and Judith Penchansky. To date, you have refused to release this information. Please provide this information to me prior to July 31, 2006.

Since the District has access to information it has provided to others, yet failed to disclose to me, some of which for almost one entire year, it has taken an unfair advantage in this situation. The District has had adequate time to meet with its various employees, legal representatives, and third parties. It has had adequate time to prepare any arguments or evidence against me, yet failed to afford me any sort of minimal due process to prepare my case by disclosing these records to me. Since the District unilaterally decided I was in violation of the Student Conduct Code, without affording me any input into these allegations, the District has violated my rights and its own internal polices and administrative regulations. By continuing to withhold my access to campus via its interim suspension, by failing to allow me to attend class, or to remove the wrongful disciplinary hold on my student records and enrollment, the District continues to be in violation of my rights. In fact, each day the District refuses to disclose records, allow inspection of my disciplinary file, and refuses to set a date for the suspension hearing as mandated by law, the District is in violation of my rights.

As stated on numerous occasions, the District is not only in violation of my due process rights, it has been in violation of my rights as a disabled student. Despite requesting advocacy from the SMC ADA Compliance Officer, as required by law, the District has failed to respond. The fact that Professor Jim Keeshen was allowed to make his March 1, 2006 public speech in his ET 18 Storyboarding class at the Academy of Entertainment and Technology regarding my alleged disability and to threaten his students with retaliation including being kicked out of school, was a blatant disregard for my rights and the rights of any students he would allegedly target in his unlawful retaliation.

Given the fact that you stated that the District did not support Professor Keeshen's position, I find it curious that it allowed Ms. Penchansky to violate my rights under the First Amendment to communicate with Professor Keeshen about this issue and to further suspend me. Although Professor Keeshen could express his viewpoint, in violation of FERPA confidentiality and the disability policies of the District, and Thomas J. Baker could further contact Professor Keeshen via email to paint my reputation in a false light and to seek advocacy against me, my viewpoints and grievances were unconstitutionally denied.

Clearly, by moving forward with this retaliatory suspension, the District is leaving itself wide open for a lawsuit of which it would not prevail in court. That alone is grounds to immediately dismiss this suspension. Since President Tsang and the various members of the SMC Board of Trustees have been kept informed and up to date on these issues and grievances, and by the District's failure to adequately respond or intervene, the District will be hard pressed to deny any liability or hide behind any immunity.

Since you have provided legal counsel to Thomas J. Baker, one of my accusers, on a legal matter outside the District's authorization or jurisdiction, as previously indicated in my last email to you, you are far from an impartial person to represent the District on any appeal hearing. As such, you should immediately recuse yourself from any appeal hearing pertaining to my suspension. Accordingly, the District should substitute you with impartial legal counsel that would best represent both my rights as a student and any rights the District may have as well. Please indicate whether you plan to recuse yourself from any hearing prior to July 31, 2006.

Since time is of the essence, I eagerly await your prompt response. Absent any response from the District, or its continued refusal to either provide a hearing date on or before July 31, 2006 or to alternatively dismiss the suspension and remove the enrollment hold, I will reserve my right to move forward with Court intervention to enforce the rights that the District is so blatantly and persistently ignoring.

Very Truly Yours,

Des Manttari /s/

Cc: Chui L. Tsang, President and Superintendent
SMC Board of Trustees: Nancy Greenstein, Susan Aminoff, Carole Currey, and Rob Rader

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