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Amid A Year Of Legal Tension, LBCC Board Stands By Leadership

An entry sign for Long Beach City College's Liberal Arts Campus sits amid foliage as a woman walks in the background.
Long Beach City College consists of two campuses and has more than 26,000 students.
(Megan Garvey
/
LAist)
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The Long Beach Community College District board of trustees reaffirmed its leadership Wednesday night, selecting interim president Mike Muñoz as the district's superintendent-president, and re-electing its current board president and vice president to their roles.

This continues the leadership of the board through a year of some tension.

The board of trustees oversees Long Beach City College’s two campuses. In 2019, it launched an investigation into former superintendent-president Reagan Romali, which looked into allegations including misuse of staff, bullying and making false statements.

Romali was ultimately fired and replaced with Muñoz as the interim (and now official) leader. The board also levied allegations against fellow trustee Sunny Zia, accusing her of inappropriately soliciting campaign contributions from a contractor with the Port of Long Beach. Zia, who works as a civil engineer at the port, has repeatedly denied all wrongdoing.

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Conflicts Of Interest

The board took Zia to court to keep her from participating in all closed meetings about the investigation, including discussions about Romali. It maintained that Zia had a conflict of interest regarding the former superintendent-president, this after she made public statements that the investigation into Romali was a “waste of taxpayer dollars.” According to court documents, the board went so far as to create Zoom sessions that specifically barred Zia from logging on.

Zia contended that her exclusion from conversations about Romali would leave her constituents without representation. She recused herself from meetings that discussed allegations against her and asked the board to segment sessions so that she could participate during the portions that did not refer to her.

A Los Angeles Superior Court judge sided with Zia in November.

“I look forward to putting this wasteful effort behind me and continue supporting the success of our students and fighting for my constituents and prudent spending of taxpayer dollars,” Zia said in a written statement. She also pointed to the investigation’s escalating legal costs. The contract for the investigation was first approved for $20,000, but the college has now paid several hundred thousand dollars.

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According to court documents, the investigation included 58 witness interviews and a review of thousands of pages of documents. The district, however, chose not to produce it as evidence in the court proceedings.

LAist reached out for comment from Vincent Ewing, who serves as general counsel to the Long Beach Community College District at Alvarez-Glasman & Colvin. A receptionist said he does not comment on litigation.

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