By Leo Premnath-Ray, Staff Writer

June 7, 2023

The Peralta Community College District (PCCD) has begun its search to hire a permanent chancellor, a position that has been filled by interim appointments since 2020. Three members of the Board of Trustees will serve on the “chancellor candidate screening committee” with full voting power, despite recommendations from Peralta’s Participatory Governance Council (PGC) to significantly reduce the board’s role on the committee.

The application for the chancellor position is open until July 31.

The screening committee will evaluate applications, interview candidates, and recommend finalists for consideration by the board. Faculty, administrators, classified professionals, students, community members, and trustees will serve on the committee. Interim Chancellor Jannett Jackson will select these members based on recommendations from the board.

Per Board Policy 2431 (BP 2431), three trustees will serve on the committee, each with one regular vote. However, on March 10 the PGC proposed that one trustee serve instead, with only an advisory vote, among other recommendations. 

At the March 14 board meeting, the board reviewed and discussed PGC’s recommendations. Trustee Louis Quindlen proposed a compromise in which three trustees would sit on the committee with advisory votes. 

He pointed out how having three board votes could result in an imbalance. 

“Having three trustees as a part of that committee… we’re one vote away from a majority,” Quindlen said. “I think that defeats the whole purpose of a screening committee.” 

Still, he emphasized the importance of board representation on the committee.

“Our different trustees have many different experiences that they would bring to the conversation,” Quindlen added. “I think having more than one person in there is important.” 

Quindlen’s motion passed 4-3, with Trustee Cindi Napoli-Abella Reiss, Board President Dyana Delfín Polk and Trustee Sheweet Yohannes voting in opposition. 

The board then voted to approve an amended version of BP 2431 that included Quindlen’s compromise, as well as other revisions. However, an incorrect version of BP 2431 was posted to the district’s website. On this basis, Jackson put the policy back to the agenda for the April 11 board meeting. 

At this meeting, BP 2431 was revised again, to allow three trustees to serve on the candidate screening committee with full voting powers. Ultimately, the finalized version of BP 2431 passed 6-1 with a single “nay” from Quindlen.

During discussion, Quindlen opposed re-amending the policy to give the trustees full votes.

“When we got the PGC motion we compromised on it, but their motion was pretty much a hundred percent recommendation out of administration, faculty, classified [professionals], everybody that’s going to have to live with this decision for the next 10 or 15 years hopefully and I think we should really take that into consideration,” Quindlen said.

Reiss spoke in favor of giving trustees votes on the committee, emphasizing the importance of the trustees’ role in the process.

“Those recommendations are absolutely important, absolutely, but they’re also recommendations,” Reiss said. “This is the one candidate, the one employee, the only employee that we have, and so being in those particular meetings and having a vote for our only employee is so incredibly critical.”

“We want the best for this district,” Reiss said later in the meeting. “It’s not like the board would do something that would be for the malintent or the consequence or the malconsequence of the district.” 

Reiss, Polk, and Yohannes will serve on the screening committee, along with community members Daniel Alvarado and Lailan Huan from Oakland, and The Citizen staff writer Emily Tenorio Molina from Berkeley.

The new chancellor’s term will begin Jan. 1, 2024.