Copper Mountain College, Joshua Tree, Ca.,- Past Foundation Executive Director, Cindy Slayton, filed charges of Brown Act violations by the Board of Directors of Copper Mountain College Foundation. CMC President/Superintendent Roger Wagner adamantly denied those charges in March 2011. The local newspaper reported:
President: No violations occurred
Responding to allegations of the college’s Brown Act violations, President and Superintendent Dr. Roger Wagner said officials and an attorney looked into the matter and determined the college had complied with the law.
“In July of 2010, the district received a ‘Demand to Cure or Correct Alleged Brown Act Violations’ from Ms. Slayton. These allegations were fully investigated and reviewed with legal counsel to ensure the district’s full compliance with the Brown Act,” Wagner stated via e-mail.
“I remain confident that our board has been and continues to be fully compliant with the Brown Act,” he went on to write, noting that Slayton received a letter from the college the following month to address her concerns, but she did not bring the issue forward in public until Thursday’s meeting.” Source
Slayton said she was fired from her contract as retaliation for the whistle blowing of the Foundation’s back room dealings and discussions of items not properly place on the agenda. Cactus Thorns posted the agenda for the CMC meeting which Slayton addressed her concerns during public comments. Source
On December 26, 2013, a jury dismissed the charges of retaliation but did find the Trustees violated the State Brown Act. Reporter Courtney Vaugh writes:
A jury trial determined the CMC board of trustees took no adverse employment action against Slayton and that she was not entitled to compensation. The trial did reveal violations against the state Brown Act by the trustees, however.
Slayton’s attorney, Willie Williams, confirmed Friday, Jan. 3, that board members who testified during the trial admitted to discussing Slayton’s employment without notifying her or advertising it on an agenda, in violation of the Ralph M. Brown Act. The Brown Act was passed in California in 1953 to ensure open meetings and transparency in government agencies. It stipulates that governing bodies cannot discuss personnel matters without advertising to the public what they will discuss and reporting out any action taken.
The local newspaper interviewed Slayton regarding the outcome:
“The fact that the jury found that I was not entitled to financial compensation is not an issue for me because this lawsuit was never about money,” Slayton stated via email.
“It was about holding people accountable and giving them the opportunity to admit, under oath, that a Brown Act violation had indeed occurred, that other violations were proven by the evidence, and that my concerns about improper governmental activities were never addressed or investigated by Dr. Wagner or the trustees, and that is exactly what happened.
This was always about doing the right thing, because bad behavior by those in charge can have an increasingly negative impact on CMC’s future ability to assure donors and taxpayers that their faith and money have been well-placed.” Source
There are no minutes posted for the March 14, 2011 Foundation meeting. Cathy Larson President 2011. Nancy Huntington Secretary 2011 and current. Link to 2011 minutes>LINK
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