SAVE SMC MISSION STATEMENT
OUR MISSION STATEMENT
(September 11, 2005)
This site was created to help the public and the SMC community to keep abreast of the latest
developments in current litigation with Santa Monica College District. Like all of you, we
love SMC and we wish to save it. But sometimes, we need the intervention of the legal system
to help us defend our rights when all other avenues fail. This is precisely what we are doing
in seeking the Court's aid to enforce the California Public Records Act. We are alleging that
SMC is a public school funded in part by taxpayer dollars, student tuition, and the public's
generous contributions. As such, our beloved school belongs to the community, the taxpayers,
the students, and the faculty who are entrusted with our education in a public institution of
higher learning... not as a private kingdom controlled by its administrators, management, and
staff with conscious disregard of the law or our rights. I quote from the Ralph M. Brown Act
(California Goverment Code, Section 54950) as follows:
The people of this State do not yield their sovereignty to the
agencies which serve them. The people, in delegating authority, do
not give their public servants the right to decide what is good for
the people to know and what is not good for them to know. The people
insist on remaining informed so that they may retain control over
the instruments they have created.
In wishing to view the public records of our school, we are not seeking a special privilege for
ourselves, but instead we are acting as guardians of our sacred rights as set forth in SMC's own
Board Policies, codified in the various state laws, and strengthened in the California Constitution.
We only humbly ask that SMC provided us with access and copies of those records which are of vital
public interest and which will help us SAVE SMC from its current fiscal crisis before it is too late.
Many students, faculty, and friends of the college have had the courage to step forth in support of
our noble cause. By reading through the material in this website, you too are taking the first
courageous step in defending the rights we all hold so dear. To this, I say, "Thank you."
-- Des Manttari, Editor-in-Chief
Jim Keeshen and Des Manttari at E3 Expo 2004 doing
video game news coverage for Phoenix Genesis.
(We are also featured in SMC's Fall 2005
Schedule of Classes on page 110.)
It is from numberless diverse acts of courage and belief that human
history is shaped. Each time a man stands up for an ideal or acts to
improve the lot of others or strikes out against injustice he sends
forth a tiny ripple of hope, and crossing each other from a million
different centers of energy and daring, those ripples build a current
that can sweep down the mightiest walls of oppression and resistance.
-- Robert F. Kennedy (1966)
SMC is in grave jeopardy both financially and morally. If our school is in jeapardy,
so are its devoted faculty and students. Unfortunately, it is all too easy to blame
one person, such as our current governor, than to take personal responsibility and
learn precisely what the problems are, how they developed, and where the solutions
may lie. It is a very tangled web which is not easily untangled. But we, dear
students and professors, are scholars at heart. That is why we chose to come to
SMC... or it somehow (as if it were a living, breathing entity) drew us to her
sacred pillars of knowledge. We hunger for knowledge and thirst for truth. So,
let me now be the beacon which lights the way and you the sacred flame which will
light the way for others as you read the following Evaluation Report below.
Evaluation Report: Santa Monica College
[View: FULL REPORT]
A Confidential Report Prepared for The Accrediting Commission for Community
and Junior Colleges Western Association for Schools and Colleges
This report represents the findings of the evaluation team that visited Santa
Monica College from March 23 through March 25, 2004 -- Guy F. Lease, Ed.D., Chair
EXCERPT NO. 1: "LACK OF TRUST AND RESPECT"
Campus climate is of concern to the team. The degradation of collegiality and
the lack of trust and respect are evident across the employee groups. As
discussed in Standard IV, the college is asked to seriously focus energy,
time, and attention to the goal of rebuilding professional relationships
among, faculty, staff, and administration.
EXCERPT NO. 2: "...FUNDS ARE BEING HIDDEN"
Among multiple college constituencies there is disbelief regarding the accuracy of
financial documents and projections prepared by college management, and there is disagreement
concerning the level and role of participatory governance in the decision-making process.
However, recent serious concerns have developed concerning the accuracy of some financial
documents and projections of financial resources from the California Community Colleges
Chancellor's Office. The self study states that there is a perception that the budget is
not as bad as portrayed by the college and/or that funds are being hidden.
EXCERPT NO. 3: "A DISTRUST OF FINANCIAL INFORMATION"
The lack of interface among the databases and the untimely reports from the
county office is a serious impediment to financial monitoring and planning.
There is no evidence the institution has established and documented clear
guidelines and processes for financial planning and budgeting, or that the
processes and guidelines that do exist are being followed; nor does there
appear to be agreement as to the appropriate extent of participation by the
constituent groups in the planning processes. The situation has been
exacerbated by the state's fiscal crisis that has had serious negative impact
on all the state's community colleges. The self study points out that the
recent California fiscal crisis, "has taken a hard toll on the campus,
particularly in relations between management and the faculty and staff." (III D.1)
The self study discusses the inadequacies of the fiscal services
provided by the county's financial accounting system. The undependable and
inconsistent financial reports have contributed to the atmosphere of
discontent and disagreement that permeates the college.
Appropriate and timely financial information is not provided throughout the
institution. There appear to be both process- and technical-related issues
concerning financial information. It appears as if there is not an acceptably
adequate and understood feedback and tracking process for recommendations that
flow through the constituency participation process. At least some constituent
groups feel that their recommendations are not being seriously considered, or
that the final decisions are incongruent with the institution's mission and
values. Technically, it appears that the district's fiscal processing agent,
the Los Angeles County Office of Education, has implemented a software system
that has had deeply detrimental effects upon the district's ability to provide
timely financial information throughout the institution. Among the problems
are databases that are not integrated and budget reports that are routinely
several months late.
The current California fiscal crisis has severely challenged the institution's
structures, processes, and collegiality. The self study acknowledges that the
allocation of financial resources is a primary focus of discontent and
disagreement in the institution. Problems resulting from the Los Angeles
County implementation of a new accounting and reports system have exacerbated
a distrust of financial information provided by the college's administration
to the constituent groups.
There is not a documented process for budget development that defines
constituent roles and responsibilities, nor is there a documented link between
formalized academic planning and budget development. The team recommends the
college clarify and document the fiscal planning process and the roles of
individuals and constituent groups in that process.
The college has depleted its unrestricted balances in order to fund multiple
years of operating deficits, and the fiscal solvency of the district is
dependent upon an enrollment recovery strategy in 2004-2005.
EXCERPT NO. 4: "LITTLE TRUST IN THE ADMINISTRATION"
It is the firm belief of this team that the dissension that threatened to distract
the college from its focus on its mission in 1998 remains a threat at this time.
Relationships on campus have deteriorated to the point that among many of the
constituent group leaders there is little trust in the administration. The
past informality of the participatory governance systems on campus does not
provide the assurances of two-way communication, clear understanding of issues
and proposed solutions, trust, and mutual respect. The team addresses these
issues in greater detail in the current team report.
EXCERPT NO. 5: "AN ENVIRONMENT OF DISTRUST"
However, in the winter and spring of 2003, the college’s structure for
participatory governance was put to the test and in the minds of many of those
who participated in the difficult budget related decisions that year, the
system failed. In the self study and in interviews with representatives of the
faculty, staff, and students, it was obvious that the current structure and
processes left many with a feeling of dissatisfaction and mistrust.
These feelings seemed to be grounded in the lack of clarity about the role of
various committees, the processes used to disseminate information, the concern
regarding the credibility of information, and the lack of clarity of
constituency involvement and follow through on input. The team found that
Santa Monica College does not have a cohesive decision-making process and in
times of economic instability and cutbacks the current informal structure did
not work as intended. In the present statewide climate of economic
uncertainty, the lack of a clearly defined process has contributed to an
environment of distrust.
The team found that the consultative process is so informal that efforts to consult
were not always recognized as such and not adequately documented. (IV A.3.)
There is currently no formal process in place to evaluate the integrity and
effectiveness of the college’s overall governance and decision-making
processes and structures. There is evidence that there have been attempts in
the past several years to conduct evaluations of certain portions of the
structure including the various Academic Senate Joint committees, the
administrative structure, and the Collegewide Coordinating Council; but all of
these have been piecemeal and some have never been actually conducted. The
college has acknowledged this is an area that needs attention.
EXCERPT NO. 6: "THERE ARE SERIOUS PROBLEMS..."
The team concludes that the current decision-making model is not as effective
as is necessary to create an environment for improvement, innovation and
institutional excellence, particularly in a college of this size. However, the
team feels the college meets the standard for accreditation. The problems on
this campus are problems of sharpening the processes and agreeing to learn to
work together in a professional manner. The team strongly feels that the
college needs to reevaluate its decision-making processes to ensure a process
that defines the various committees; the roles, responsibilities and
membership; methods for getting and disseminating consistent, timely, and
credible information; processes for agendas, minutes, and chronicling past
actions; and develop strategies for following through on concerns and methods
to provide feedback and input to the college community.
Unfortunately, the Los Angeles County Office of Education has
recently changed it financial accounting software system resulting in
inaccurate reports and confusion at the college. Faculty, staff, and
administration leaders do not feel secure that the information they are
receiving is accurate and this is contributing to the lack of trust on campus.
It is critically important for the college to find ways to hold
substantive dialogues between the administration, faculty, staff, and students
that are characterized by open conversations, good listening, mutual respect,
and collegiality. Once an improved structure is in place, this structure and
its processes should be regularly evaluated to assure their integrity and
effectiveness. It is important to such a process that the results of these
regular evaluations are communicated across the campus and used as the basis
There are serious problems as noted in Standard III with the recent change in
the financial computing system by the Los Angeles County Office of Education
that has left the college with uncertainties as to the accuracy of budget and
expenditure data. In order for the superintendent/president to establish a
system to effectively control the budget and expenditures, the college must
have timely and accurate data.
CORRECTIONS TO THE SMC INSTITUTIONAL SELF STUDY
Accreditation Report Response: Santa Monica College
[View: FULL REPORT]
CSEA values ethical behavior and has first-hand understanding of the difference between
a piece of paper and, given the very high level of complaints against the administration
and management that rise out of unethical behavior, the day-to-day realities of applied
ethics. Additionally, since the district often uses their written policies for selective
and punitive purposes, it is unrealistic for the district to expect that we would agree
to codify additional policies that have potential for misuse. CSEA always operates
ethically and, although we believe that written standards are unnecessary, we are willing
to discuss those that do not create the potential for disciplinary misuse.
A DEMAND FOR FISCAL AND MORAL ACCOUNTABILITY
So Where is Our Money Being Spent and by Whom...???
[READ MORE HERE]
"If the state can't make sure the money is being well spent on its intended purpose,
then don't give it out. I don't give allowance money to my kids unless I have some
idea of what they're spending it on."
-- Jon Coupal, director of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association
So, having read all the above SMC documents (and many, many, more), I was a little bit curious
to see where our money is being spent at SMC and by whom. I decided to look at several of
the consultant contracts and grants that SMC has given out over the years. I did not realize
at the time, that such an innocent request would lead to the pending litigation which has
transpired. To get an overview of our pursuit for the truth, the insurmountable obstacles
we have overcome, and those who have courageously stood by our side, read our Verified Complaint
by clicking HERE
This Site is Frequently Updated !!!
Members of the public and the SMC community are encouraged to check this website regularly
to stay up to date on the status of the proceedings and orders issued in this litigation.
Disclaimer and Legal Notice
This website provides information and updates relating to past and pending litigation
with Santa Monica Community College District and it is NOT an official website of the
Los Angeles Superior Court or Santa Monica College
(SMC) or the Academy of Entertainment and
(AET) nor are we endorsed by or affiliated with any of these entities.
THE SAVE SMC WEBSITE