Christian conflict remains


Javier Valdes

Sonya Christian’s contract was approved at the Oct. 6 KCCD Board of Trustees meeting

Javier Valdes, Copy Editor

The ongoing saga between Bakersfield College President Sonya Christian and the Kern Community College District continues after the KCCD board of trustees voted against the approval of Christian’s contract at the Sept. 10 board meeting.

Amid the conflict between the KKCD and Christian, KCCD Chancellor Sandra Serrano released a statement after weeks of silence on the issue following the Sept. 10 board meeting.

Serrano’s response, however, didn’t go without comment as BC faculty, students, and community supporters rallied together at the Bakersfield College campus to advocate for the BC president.

The BCSGA came together to show their support for Christian leading up to a Special Board Meeting on Sept. 17.

At the Special Board Meeting, the chancellor and trustees arrived to a full house of Christian’s supporters.

During the open-session meeting, faculty, community leaders, and Bakersfield Mayor Harvey Hall spoke in support of Christian, urging the board to vote for the approval of Christian’s contract.

After the board heard public comments, it went into closed session to further discuss the negotiations that needed to be made before they can bring it back to a vote.

After a lengthy closed-session meeting, the board came back and KCCD Board President Dennis Beebe stated, “There was no action taken during closed session, after a conference with the chancellor as negotiator the board has decided that further negotiations are unnecessary and that the contract will be placed on the board’s October agenda.”

Serrano stated that the board did not vote on the contract during the Sept. 17 board meeting because it was a Special Board Meeting and the KCCD can only vote on such during a regular board meeting. The contract will be voted on once again during the Oct. 6 board meeting.

Following the meeting Beebe, who had initially voted against the approval for the contract at the Sept. 10 board meeting, made it known that he would be voting for the approval of Christian’s contract during the Oct. 6 board meeting.

At the Sept. 10 board meeting, the KCCD and Christian negotiated a contract that was recommended for approval and was expected to be approved. The contract, though, was ultimately rejected.

Six days later, Serrano responded with a public letter regarding the contract issue.

Throughout her lengthy response regarding allegations made on how Christian’s evaluation was leaked to the press and the content of the employee evaluation, Serrano defended herself stating that the document was, “For her (Christian) eyes only for reflection and correction,” and where she continued to affirm that she retained sole access to the district’s copy of Christian’s evaluation and that the other existing copy was in Christian’s possession, denying rumors that she had leaked the evaluation to the press.

Many of Christian’s supporters dismissed Serrano’s public letter for allegedly contradicting what was stated in the June 2015 evaluation.

In a published Facebook note, BC professor Nick Strobel called Serrano’s public letter “false” stating that, “The evaluation was NOT ‘for reflection and correction.’ The evaluation dated June 2015 tells Sonya to find employment elsewhere…‘reflection and correction’ really?”

Strobel refers to Christian’s evaluation where Serrano wrote, “Regardless of Dr. Christian’s talents and accomplishments, her leadership style is not compatible with the procedures and thus operation of a multi-college district. It is recommended that Dr. Christian seek a chief executive office in a single college district where she will have the responsibility and authority she seeks,” further supporting claims that Christian’s review wasn’t for reflection and correction but a blunt request that she seek a different job elsewhere.

Serrano defended allegations that she had released the evaluation by stating that Christian disclosed that she had provided a copy of her evaluation to one or more of her faculty and administrators. Confirming that Christian’s evaluation wasn’t released by the KCCD.

Serrano continued, asserting that the short-term contract initially offered to Christian, which she denied, instead seeking a fair and equitable contract parallel to the contracts of Cerro Coso and Porterville campus president’s, was to urge rapid improvement, citing that the terms of the employment agreement were determined by her intentional undermining of the evaluation process, which includes that “the evaluation remains confidential in order to provide feedback that indentifies both strengths and areas of improvement.”

Strobel countered Serrano’s statement stating that Serrano’s claim that Christian’s intentional undermining of the evaluation process was one of the reasons as to why Christian was offered an inequitable short-term contract was false, since the short-term extension was offered long before Christian’s evaluation was leaked to the press, further dismissing Serrano’s case.