Communication Between Local Boards and Academic Senates

Resolution Number: 
Assigned to : 
Local Senates

Whereas publicly-elected boards of trustees for community colleges have an obligation to provide institutional oversight, and the trustees' oversight obligation requires objectivity and the concomitant obligation to hear information from campus and other diverse groups, and

Whereas direct, open, and informal communication is necessary to hear groups' concerns, without filtering by college administrators, and under the participatory governance provisions of Title 5, academic senates and boards of trustees are placed at parity regarding academic and professional matters, and

Whereas parity in decision-making requires parity in communication between boards of trustees and academic senates, and

Whereas the Brown Act permits open, direct, and informal communication between members of boards of trustees and academic senates in venues other than public, agendized board of trustees' meetings of the entire board (so long as attendees do not constitute a quorum of the board of trustees and serial meetings do not occur), and

Whereas the Brown Act does not require a college president or other college officials to be present at an informal meeting between board of trustee members and an academic senate, and

Whereas on occasion local college administrators and trustees have attempted to limit communication between local boards and academic senates to occasions when 1) All trustees are invited; 2) President and Vice President of Instruction are also invited; 3) Meeting is open to others who may be interested; and 4) Meeting is noticed and agendized and is in compliance with the spirit and letter of the Brown Act and local shared governance process, and

Whereas such parameters restrict local academic senates to dealing with boards of trustees only in public session, thus limiting encounters only to formal presentation (thereby excluding informal communication), depriving local senates of First Amendment rights, and abandoning local boards' obligations to communicate with constituents and provide institutional oversight,

Resolved that the Academic Senate urge local boards of trustees to follow the Brown Act and the letter and spirit of participatory governance set forth in Title 5 Regulations and communicate directly, openly, and informally with their respective academic senates.

(mwl 2009)
Status Report: 

The President and members of the Executive Committee have continuously advocated for local boards to responsibly follow both the letter and spirit of law and regulation related to governance and to the Brown Act. This has been raised with state