Community College Instructor Says College President Had Students Fix His BMW For Free

Instructor says he was retaliated against after raising objections to free auto repair

Photo of Carlos Turner Cortez Courtesy of SDCCD
Courtesy of SDCCD

A faculty member at San Diego Community College District said colleagues are retaliating against him after he objected to the President of the Continuing Education program getting his BMW fixed for free by the college’s auto program.

Auto body and paint instructor, John Louie, outlined the allegations in a December 24 lawsuit against the San Diego Community College District, the program’s dean, and a faculty member for targeting him after he blew the whistle on president Carlos Turner Cortez’ alleged demand for free auto repairs.

In his complaint, Louie alleges that Cortez left his BMW X5 with the auto repair instructor in December 2018 to fix the vehicle. At the time Louie allegedly overheard other faculty members stating that Cortez had “no business having his car repaired for free at the facility.”

Days later Louie said he discovered emails from Cortez to the instructor to schedule the repair. 

Missing from the emails, according to the complaint, was a signed repair order and any mention of payment for the parts and materials needed for the repair, as required by the San Diego Community College District.

“It was clear to Mr. Louie that some form of favoritism, nepotism, and/or unethical arrangement had been made by [the instructor],” reads the lawsuit. “Accordingly, Mr. Louie further reiterated the policies and procedures and stated that the vehicle could not be repaired without a repair order and arrangement to pay for materials”

Louie allegedly contacted Cortez to sign a repair authorization form.

Not long after Louie says his superiors retaliated.

Louie allegedly received his first negative peer review, others soon followed. 

In addition, one of Louie’s students allegedly said other faculty members had approached her to make false allegations against him.

Added the lawsuit, “The student claims [a faculty member] tried to persuade her that Mr. Louie had sexually harassed her. It was part of a planned hit-job on Mr. Louie’s character, and his career in the department. Instead of being persuaded, the student wrote a statement about how [staff] had approached her, and she gave a positive review of Mr. Louie, including a statement that she never felt sexually harassed.”

Louie claims the negative reviews will damage his professional career. 

In a statement, a college spokesperson said that administrators and students are encouraged to offer their cars for repairs. 

“Administrators, faculty and classified professionals throughout SDCCD have supported the automotive program for decades by providing their vehicles for repair.”

As for Cortez’ request to have his BMW X5 repaired, the spokesperson said Cortez did not pay for materials because the paint materials needed had already been paid for. To make up for it, Cortez “made a financial donation to the [college district] in lieu of paying for the paint.“

Added the spokesperson: “Although the repairs in the automotive program are time-consuming and inconvenient in many ways due to projects taking more time due to the learning environments; employees are expected to support the program by providing vehicles when possible. If employees did not agree to provide cars to the program; students would not have a hands-on laboratory learning environment and the programs would not be successful.”

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