First trustee meeting overshadowed by personal problems


Monique Nethington

Cerritos College Board of Trustee members gather for the first meeting of the year, This was the first meeting in which Trustee Lewis Zurich ran as president. Photo credit: Monique Nethington

Monique Nethington

Under the leadership of new board president Lewis Zurich, the first meeting of year for the Cerritos College Board of Trustees meeting saw presentation of school recognition awards, reviews and project plan presentations.

However, the meeting was overshadowed by controversy and personal problems between members.

The meeting, which was held Wednesday, Jan.18, was winding down to a close when arguments erupted between Trustee John Paul Drayer and Trustee Marisa Perez.

The back and forth began when item 51 was open for discussion. The item’s topic was about who the board would nominate for CCCT.

Perez’s name was thrown in for nomination, which immediately prompted an indirect objection from Drayer.

This began a heated discussion amongst the board if there was a possibility of there being two nominations for CCCT.

However, the bylaws do not allow for such nomination, and if they were to do so the nomination would be invalid.

This then prompted Drayer to call for Perez to disqualify herself from nomination, which sparked an argument between the two that lasted approximately 10 minutes.

Perez said, “Trustee Drayer has been direct to only speak to me at the board and knows very clearly why I don’t communicate with him.”

She then continues to describe an incident which resulted in allegations of harassment by Drayer in which law enforcement presence was needed.

At the end of the exchange, the board called for a roll call vote on the nomination item that fell in favor of Trustee Perez where she will run to represent Cerritos College.

In response to the argument and comments and made Perez said, “It’s an issue and I have a family. I will be protective of my family at all costs.”

The incidents mention were vaguely explained by Miya Walker, Director Public Affairs, saying, “We have said that it was an issue that you have been working with through law enforcement. [It] doesn’t go much further beyond that.”

Perez’s focus now is obtaining the position on the CCCT board.

She said, “I have to get Compton College to vote for me in the board. Then, I would have to go over to Pasadena City College and they as a board of trustees would have to vote for me.

“I have to get all of these different trustee boards across the state to vote for me. It’s just communicating with them. When we’re going to the convention this week, we’re really trying to meet as many people as possible and let them know what our priorities and how we could be a voice for them,” Perez finished.

Despite the drama the first meeting of the year was a productive one having given out four awards, heard two different presentations and had movement through the agenda.

The first award given out was to Dave Gunn, multimedia production specialist as Classified Employee of the Month for Nov. 2016.

According to Dr. Fierro Gunn played a vital role in the transition from TalonNet to Canvas and is also just as vital in finding a solution to get access to the locked grades still lost in the TalonNet shutdown.

Three other awards were given to Philip Grois, Anna Edwards, and Terry Price for their years of service to Cerritos College and its students.

The meeting continued with a presentation of the feasible study that was taken last year on ways to campaign and fundraise for the Cerritos College Foundation.

This will be the first major campaign for the school in which Trustee Carmen Avalos said she looks forward to being a part of.

The ending result of the presentation, given by The Institute for Philanthropic Excellence, showed that the school needs to the college needs to expand on relations with potential donors in the community in order to raise the funds needed and to have a successful campaign.

The final presentation given was on the Audited Financial Reports for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2016.

In which an associate for the audit firm of Christy White and Associates said, “The college needs to expand on relations with potential donors in the community.”

Finally at the end of the meeting the Trustees gave their final remarks, where startling accusation was made by Drayer.

He said, “People in the community have relayed to me that people have sexually harassing me during the campaign and someone did it to me directly.”

Drayer was unavailable to comment fully on the subject but did say that sexual harassment has continued as a direct result and that it has become a hostile work environment.

Despite the disagreement Lewis hopes to move forward through the year successfully and smoothly.