Rick Hernandez’s appeal denied

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By Nita Ghandi / News Editor

By Nita Ghandi / News Editor

Rick Hernandez, a former RCC employee who accused the district of wrongful termination was officially terminated on his appeal in a closed session at the Board of Trustees meeting on Feb. 22.

The closed session was in regards to the allegations Hernandez made in a letter he wrote and read to the Board of Trustees at the meeting on Jan. 25.

“The Board went into closed session and came out only stating ‘no recordable action’ with no other description,” Hernandez wrote in an e-mail to Viewpoints.   

Hernandez said that the main grounds for his termination was a claim of conflict of interest and he accused the district of hiring a person with a conflict of interest.

Michael Stevens, the RCC director of construction was hired shortly after Hernandez was supposedly discharged wrongfully does have family ties to Budget Electrical Company, the company that is currently building the nursing building. However, after Viewpoints spoke with Ruth Adams, general council for RCCD, she said that all procedures were followed in hiring Stevens.

Stevens and Williams were unavailable for comment as of press time.

The Riverside Community College District Board of Trustees policy 2710 states that no employee of the District shall engage in employment, activity, or enterprise that is in conflict with duties performed as an employee of the District. The employee cannot do any work or service outside of the District unless approved in a manner prescribed by the policy.

Zeke Hernandez, Rick Hernandez’s father, is calling for an investigation into the allegations made by Orin Williams, associate vice chancellor of facilities, design and construction for RCCD that Rick has a conflict of interest.

In a letter from Zeke Hernandez to the Board of Trustees, Williams is alleging that he knows the owner of the Seville Construction Services and was placed on the Districts vendor list for construction projects, which would supposedly be a conflict of interest.

Zeke Hernandez states in the letter that he met Rene Flores, the owner of Seville Construction Services about 12 to 15 years ago and during that time the have spoken maybe one or two times.

He received a reply from Chancellor Gray stating that there is no need for an investigation.  

“They went through the process and used my name and that I have a relationship with one company,” said Zeke Hernandez. “I have no relationship with that entity not now or ever.”  

Hernandez also accused the district that his firing was in violation of the Brown Act.

The Brown Act section 54957 prohibits a legislative body of a local agency from holding closed sessions during regular meetings to consider employment or dismissal of a public employee and the employee should have written notice of his or her right to have the complaints or charges heard in an open session rather than a closed session.

“He writes that I alleged that I was denied 24 hours notice,” wrote Hernandez.

In a letter Hernandez wrote for the Jan. 25 Board meeting he states that he requested an open session and his request was denied three times.  

In an e-mail from Jim Parsons, he states that closed session discussions are confidential. He further stated that if the Board takes action in a closed session it is required to report out that action when it comes back to open session.

“The Board going (this time) into closed session was OK, the fact that they did not give a brief description of what went on inside could be in violation of according to the Attorney General’s office booklet on Brown Act and the Bagley-Keene open meeting Ace 2004,” Hernandez wrote.

The Bagley-Keene Open Meeting Act 2004 is a misdemeanor violation 11130.7, which states that each member of a state body who attends a meeting of that body in violation of any provision of the article, and where the member intends to deprive the public of information to which the member knows or has reason to know the public is entitled under the article, is guilty of a misdemeanor.

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