After a Los Angeles Superior court judge nullified former Superintendent President Dr. Mark Rocha’s severance package last April, ruling that Rocha and the Board of Trustees violated the Brown Act by not listing his severance package negotiations in closed sessions, the district signed a new settlement agreement with Rocha allowing him to keep the $403,826, along with the $16,000 in legal expenses negotiated in his original severance package agreement.
According to the new settlement agreement signed by Board President Berlinda Brown last month, Rocha hired a lawyer in May 2014 and threatened to sue the district for breach of contract and defamation.
On two separate dates between July and August, Rocha and the board met in closed session with both of their attorneys concerning those threats, listing the meetings in the agenda as “anticipated litigation.”
“No other facts or circumstances regarding the threat of litigation were stated, because it was the opinion of the district’s counsel that to have done so at either meeting would have required the disclosure of information which was not yet known to potential litigants, including but not limited to Dr. Rocha,” the settlement agreement states.
In October 2014, the non-profit group Californians Aware filed a lawsuit against the Board of Trustees and Rocha that accused the board of violating open meeting laws and demanded that the school retract Rocha’s package. A judge agreed and nullified the agreement in May.
The financial terms of the latest agreement have not changed, as Rocha received a sum equal to 18 months of his salary and a letter of recommendation from the board. The settlement also states that the agreement has enough necessary information that “neither party will make any further statements to the press about Dr. Rocha’s employment,” and that Rocha, the district and the board shall refrain from making any public statements to the public about the agreement.
“The agreement with Dr. Rocha speaks for itself concerning what the parties agreed to do,” wrote Brown in an email. “Beyond the foregoing, the district has no further comment regarding the agreement or the litigation.”