College district trustees distancing themselves from former chancellor

Ron Galatolo

Correction: An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported San Mateo County Community College District board member Dave Mandelkern’s vote on Nov. 20 on personnel changes in the district. He voted in favor of the changes. Board member Richard Holober voted against the changes.

Daily Post Staff Writer

When San Mateo County Community College District Chancellor Ron Galatolo was abruptly terminated by the district in August, he and the district’s board of trustees entered into an agreement saying they can’t say disparaging things about each other.

And the non-disparagement agreement is still active even though the district attorney has opened an investigation into Galatolo over his handling of contracts and claims of harassment.

However, some of the board members have let it slip how they feel about Galatolo now that he’s gone, with one board member saying the board felt “played” by the longtime chancellor.

The Post reviewed minutes of public meetings that have been held since Galatolo abruptly stepped down from his position on Aug. 9.

At an Oct. 24 meeting with Canada College faculty, Board President Maurice Goodman said that the board followed Galatolo’s recommendations because they didn’t want him to feel like he didn’t have the trust of the board.

But he said board members think that they have been “played,” and are more leery of proposals put before them.

‘Our world changed’

“As far as I’m concerned — our world changed on Aug. 12 when we appointed Mike Claire as the new interim chancellor,” trustee Richard Holober said at the Nov. 20 board meeting.

Holober went on to say that administrators at the district need to understand that the change in leadership in the district is a “profound change.”

Both Holober and Goodman have stated at both board meetings and at meetings with faculty that it is a new day in the district with Galatolo gone.

Questions about promotions

Trustees Dave Mandelkern, Holober and Goodman have each asked for a breakdown explaining how personnel promotions are decided in the district.

In fact, Holober voted against the last round of personnel changes on Nov. 20 in protest of the policy not coming before the board, but changes still being proposed by the administration.

On Sept. 25, Holober said that the district can now break out of some patterns with hiring that have been allowed in the past and make some “course corrections.”

It appears that three of the board members — Mandelkern, Holber and Goodman — are trying to change the course the district has been on.

Trustee praises Galatolo’s vision

Meanwhile, trustee Karen Schwarz appears to be on the other side. She said at the board’s Sept. 25 meeting that Galatolo was not respected at a ribbon cutting at Skyline College for a new environmental science building.

“She said the vision of Chancellor Ron Galatolo is the reason the building is there. She said she wants to go on record that she appreciates what he had to do with the building, which has shone brightly. Vice President Schwarz said she believes it was disrespectful not to acknowledge Chancellor Galatolo,” the meeting minutes from the meeting say.

Galatolo on leave

Since the Post broke the news that Galatolo is under investigation by the District Attorney’s office for contract impropriety and harassment, he has been on leave from his position as chancellor emeritus. In that position, he is being paid the same he was making as chancellor, $467,700 a year plus benefits.


  1. Do any of the membership of this Trustee Board reside in Woodside? As a member of Woodside the new building at the Cañada campus appears to have quite an odd roofline and dimension. It seems extremely oversized for this area, like a monstrosity sized modern office park and not a natural blend of a building embedded in our quaint and rural environment. Question for our Town Council- how could you allow this angular structure to be the massive hard scape in such a natural setting?

  2. I find it ironic and sad that some District trustees are questioning the behavior of the former chancellor, Ron Galatolo. Hindsight is 20/20. What is so bothersome is that they should have been questioning some decisions made by Galatolo a long time ago. I can’t believe (or maybe I can) that these same trustees who are questioning his decisions and motives now, were “conned” into giving Galatolo a new title, and pay his outlandish salary of $487,000 for the next three years, and also enter into an agreement to not “bad mouth” him, or even divulge the reasons he “resigned” on opening day.

    Thanks to Emily and the Palo Alto Daily Post for keeping this story alive. I hope we hear something soon,

  3. If the investigation finds wrong doing, Garafolo will be indicted and lose his job that way. Maybe it’s the angle the trustees are hoping 4. In any case, time for k Schwartz to hang it up.

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