Southwestern College Trustee Resigns

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    NEWSLETTERS

    A newly-elected Southwestern College trustee announced his resignation in the pages of the community college's student newspaper, The Southwestern College Sun.

    Trustee William Stewart told The Sun on Friday he was quitting in protest, saying district administrators were not providing accurate budget information to the governing board and to the faculty's union negotiators.  He could not be reached for comment to NBC7.

    In a resignation letter sent to the South Bay community college, Stewart wrote:

    "I will not sit on a board and say that I am fulfilling my fiduciary duty of fiscal oversight when I am not provided with the means to do so. Without information, all the information (his emphasis), oversight is a sham." 

    Southwestern is deadlocked in a contentious contract negotiation with its faculty union. The classified, management and confidential employees have agreed to concessions - a 5 percent pay reduction and furlough days. The faculty union, the largest on campus, is facing layoffs if no deal is reached, according to the administration.

    Stewart, a philosophy professor at San Diego City College, told The Sun he disagreed with the administration's negotiation tactic of "threatening layoffs," and added he was denied access to important budget documentation.

    "We would have to respectfully disagree with that," said Southwestern college spokeswoman Lillian Leopold. "We've been providing all the budget information the board and the union has asked for. We're just sorry he chose to resign."

    Stewart ran in the November 2012 elections as part of a slate that included trustee Humberto Peraza, with heavy backing from the local arm of the American Federation of Teachers and labor. 

    "I'm disappointed that he chose to resign," Peraza said. "Look, this is a tough job. You have to work through disagreements to reach consensus and that isn't always easy."

    The board is scheduled to decide on March 13 whether to appoint a new governing board member to fill Stewart's spot or hold a special election, which would be costly. If appointed, a trustee would have to run for re-election in the 2014 campaign cycle.

    A March 4 special board meeting is scheduled for the board to discuss the ongoing labor negotiations in closed-session.

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