COC board holds special closed meeting for Van Hook evaluation

College of the Canyons
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College of the Canyons’ governing board members conducted a special closed session meeting Thursday, which had been canceled the day before, to evaluate Chancellor Dianne Van Hook’s performance. 

No official board action was taken in the hours-long closed session. 

The board, with the exception of clerk Edel Alonso, who was absent, held the meeting to discuss the “public employee performance evaluation” of the chancellor, according to a college agenda report. 

Trustees realized they hadn’t notified student trustee David Gonzales about the meeting and rescheduled it for Thursday instead, according to COC spokesman Eric Harnish, who said Wednesday that the board chose to move the date even though legal counsel said they could have still held it Wednesday. 

Van Hook’s evaluation follows the college’s Trustee Area 2-4 elections, in which two incumbents secured their reelection and COC alum Sebastian Cazares was elected to join the board representing Area No. 3. He is expected to be sworn on Dec. 16 during the annual organizational meeting, according to Harnish.  

Via a written statement that Harnish read to the board, Cazares, who was also present during the public comment portion of the meeting, said he objected to the special meeting. 

“With 13,608 voters of our community entrusting me to serve them, it is my duty to empower the public to make sure our procedures are as democratic and transparent as possible,” read Cazares’ statement, in part. “Furthermore, the evaluation of the chancellor is a process that determines future goals that will impact my term. And I will preside over the governing board in just 13 days.”

Gonzales, COC faculty member Nicole Faudree and resident Steve Petzold said they questioned the board’s urgency in holding the closed session meeting without Cazares and said the board does not have the authority to have discussions regarding the chancellor’s compensation in a special meeting. 

“What is the rush that a special meeting is warranted?” questioned Faudree, who also urged the board to require an evaluation of Van Hook akin to those used to evaluate faculty and students.

The board did not report out of the closed special session.

“The meeting was adjourned at 6:12 p.m. and with no official action taken,” said board President Michele Jenkins, who added that their next meeting is set for Dec. 9.

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