The severance package that was awarded to Mark Rocha upon his retirement has been a huge point of contention since the news broke in August.
But just when it was beginning to look like the Mark Rocha versus the world saga was just starting to come to an end, more fuel has been added to the fire.
The non-profit group Californians Aware is accusing the Board of Trustees of violating open meeting laws by not properly referencing any action to offer Rocha the package on the meeting agenda.
The suit is calling for the school to rescind the package and for Rocha to give back the money.
Californians Aware is alleging that the board intentionally misled the public by listing the negotiation as “anticipated litigation” on its closed session agenda items.
Rocha’s original agreement from 2010 stated that if he was terminated without cause, he would receive a severance payment equal to the lesser of the remaining term of his contract or six months pay.
When Rocha’s contract was renegotiated through 2017, the severance agreement was changed to be equal to the lesser of the remainder of his contract term or 18 months pay which comes out to a little over $400,000.
Why would the board extend Rocha’s original contract back in 2013 when he still had a few years left on his original deal?
And why would the item not be presented out in the open? And why would they agree to triple his severance package?
The board unnecessarily renegotiated a contract with an unpopular president, agreed to pay him a huge amount of money if he left, and then watched him walk away with the bounty months later. And since these negotiations were secret, the public has no way of knowing why the board agreed to this.
If it turns out that the Board intentionally hid the negotiations, they should have to rescind the decision and Rocha should have to give the money back. Reversing this huge payout would be the first step in restoring public faith in an organization that has lost some measure of it in the last couple of years.