Thu. Sep 28th, 2023
RSCC District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez
RSCC District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez. Picture courtesy of El Don.

Opinion Editorial: The Rancho Santiago Community College District’s leadership needs a reboot By Ryan Ahari Saudi Arabia’s government is notorious for its horrendous track record on human rights. The Gulf nation severely punishes its LGBT community, prohibits women from driving, and refuses entry to anyone whose passport indicates previous entry into Israel. Keeping this in mind, why would any reasonable person, let alone a local community-based public entity, conduct business with such a repressive government? Two government-run technical schools in Saudi Arabia awarded the Rancho Santiago Community College District Foundation with a $105 million contract. The contract stipulates that the Foundation will improve and strengthen the schools’ infrastructures. Raúl Rodríguez, the District’s Chancellor, rationalized the contract by announcing the Foundation could receive up to an 8% return. An 8% return on a gross contract of $105 million is a pitiful profit margin and proves that Rodríguez is an educator and not a businessman. The contract further requires the Foundation to enter into a partnership with a corporation formed under Saudi Arabian laws. Understandably, the District is facing significant backlash from faculty, staff, the community, and the Anti-Defamation League. They oppose this contract because the Saudi-run schools will discriminate against prospective school employees based on their gender, religion, sexual orientation, and other factors. After realizing that most of our colleges’ employees would not be able to work at the Saudi colleges or would refuse to do so, Rodríguez announced that employees would be hired locally in Saudi Arabia.

Trustees along with former Santa Ana College’s ASG president Raquel Manriquez. / Joanna Meza / el Don
Trustees along with former Santa Ana College’s ASG president Raquel Manriquez. / Joanna Meza / el Don

Another troubling component of the District’s controversy is its alleged violations of the Brown Act—California’s open-meeting law. According to minutes that had to be obtained through a public records request initiated by the faculty, no discussion on the Saudi agreement ever took place at Foundation meetings dating back to 2011. The Foundation’s Bylaws under Article VI, Section 6, are clear in that the Foundation must follow the Brown Act. Rodríguez has publicly stated that the District’s lawyers advised him that the Foundation is not required to follow the Brown Act—justifying his behind-the-scenes contract deal. If the Foundation is not required to conform to the Brown Act, why is it part of its governing documents? What lawyer advised Rodríguez that the Brown Act need not be followed? It’s vital to point out that the District’s Board of Trustees was criticized in 2013 for violating the Brown Act on another matter. Rodriquez himself saw two Grand Jury investigations into Brown Act violations against the San Joaquin Delta CCD while he served as its president prior to arriving at the Rancho Santiago District. RSCCD Brown Act Violations It’s impossible to determine after-the-fact if the Foundation posted physical agendas or minutes—which would be accessible to the public. It can be confirmed through an internet archive search that the only electronic postings for the past five years were the agendas from the March 24 and May 12, 2015 meetings. The following item that appeared on the May 12, 2015 agenda summarizes the Foundation’s self-admission of Brown Act violations: “Approval and ratification of unconditional commitment as to compliance with the Ralph M. Brown Act.”

Ryan Ahari
Ryan Ahari

The facts are simple: we need a new Chancellor, and we need new trustees. Four trustees are facing re-election in 2016 and this board desperately needs to be rebooted. Together, we can accomplish this by visiting the voting booth on Election Day and choosing new representatives. Our elected trustees must be dedicated to honoring the District’s mission of high quality education and providing a strong workforce for the local economy, not the economy on a different continent. Bob Dylan once wrote, “The times, they are a-changin.” Well, I hope he’s right. ### Find out more about Ryan Ahari here.

By Editor

The New Santa Ana blog has been covering news, events and politics in Santa Ana since 2009.

13 thoughts on “The Rancho Santiago Community College District’s leadership needs a reboot”
  1. If you think an 8% is a pitiful return why don’t you put you positon another strategy of obtaining those funds instead of just releasing hot air.

    1. I think I was fairly clear about the action our community needs to take. Change begins when we choose new leadership next November. Our district needs more money because California has abdicated itself from fully funding our schools, but where we get it from is just as important as the money itself. Like others, I am extremely uncomfortable taking money from a government who would oppress a majority of OC residents such as Jews, women, and members of the LGBT community.

  2. Regarding the photo: Break the chains of slavery, register to vote??
    Quit voting for people who “give” you things and you will break the chain.

  3. Ryan,

    A better solution is to re-structure the California Community College system.

    I don’t think any sitting Sacramento politician would embrace the changes needed, but in reality this exactly what needs to happen. We should restructure CCC districts at the County Level. Why does OC need: OCC, RSCCD, NOCCD and whatever other entities exist. That’s 10 million in overhead.

    NEXT, if not first, we need to dispel the myth that EVERY student can and should go to college. NO only a select few can. However, there could be ton’s of programs that help young men and women in all kinds of fields. The Editor’s daughter is a FIDM student, mine a Academy Of Arts SF student, there are plenty of options, let’s be realistic and relieve the strain.

    Perhaps, before anything we need to address the TWO FACED Democratic politicians, and stop this silly pandering.

    There is a lot of documentation to support my comments.

  4. So, Saudi Arabians are willing to work with people who are in their eyes immoral, but people in Orange County do not want to work with people they think are immoral? It’s a sad day when Saudi Arabians are more open and tolerant than Americans.

      1. So, therefore we should refuse to work with all Saudis?? Isn’t that the kind of racist attitude that we would condemn if it we directed against any other group?

          1. Given the evidence here, and your view that we should stereotype people based on a few examples and avoid working with people we find to be immoral, we should avoid working with people in Orange County.

          2. So, again, your position is that we should not work with people whom we believe are immoral. So, based on your logic, Christians should refuse to hire homosexuals. Or do you think only you have to right to impose your moral views on others.

          3. I don’t believe our public institutions should be working in countries that mistreat women and Jews. This isn’t about morals but about basic human rights. And for the record the Saudis also mistreat homosexuals. Thanks for the reminder of that.

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