Vice chancellor charged in San Mateo County Community College corruption case

Jose Nunez, vice chancellor of facilities for the San Mateo County Community College District.

By the Daily Post staff

The first shoe dropped yesterday (Dec. 21) in the San Mateo County Community College District corruption case.

San Mateo County District Attorney announced he has filed 15 felony charges against Jose Nunez, who has served as the vice chancellor of facilities for the district for the past 21 years.

Charges include:

• Embezzlement of Public Moneys. Wagstaffe said Nunez assisted in directing the award of the contract to design and build a solar energy system at Canada College to the architectural firm of Allana, Buick and Bers of Palo Alto in 2013 and 2014.

• Twelve counts of perjury for failing to report a number of gifts he received from vendors.

• Illegally using college district resources to support a campaign for a candidate for district trustee. The candidate hasn’t yet been named.

• Illegally using college district resources to support a March 2020 statewide ballot measure, Prop. 13, a bond measure that would have provided $2 billion to community college capital projects statewide.

Nunez is scheduled to be arraigned today (Dec. 22) at 9 a.m. in the Hall of Justice in Redwood City.

The target of the investigation has long been thought to be former Chancellor Ron Galatolo, who was Nunez’s boss for many years. Wagstaffe concluded a statement about the case by saying, “Our investigation into possible criminal conduct at the district continues, aided by my Bureau of Investigation.” In other words, stay tuned.

Nunez has been placed on leave, the college district’s public affairs spokeswoman said.

Nunez made $292,632 in regular pay in 2019, the most recent year for which information was available on the government salary website Transparent California. Including fringe benefits, his compensation that year totaled $390,689.

Pick up today’s Daily Post for more on this story.

 

 

29 Comments

  1. Over the years, millions of dollars of bond money and other facility allocation funds were definitely not being spent to fix or rebuild some of the buildings on the Skyline campus. I think this is just the tip of the iceberg…

  2. My neighbors and I want a refund of our property taxes!
    It appears these overpaid administrators have made a mess of the SMCCCD construction projects which were to enhance buildings housing academic programs for their students, who they are supposed to serve. What happened to integrity, transparency and accountability? There doesn’t appear to be any of those qualities in the District’s leadership, past or present. For shame.

  3. W.T.F are you talking about? take a tour around all three campuses and see the beautiful buildings and landscapes that are top notch, also do some researches and the colleges are some of the top community colleges in the country academically.

    • Dear Mr. Neighbor, I would agree with you that the buildings are beautiful and the landscaping top notch. As for the colleges’ academic standing, I believe you are mistaken. District data indicates that only 1 out of 5 students complete a two-year degree in three years (https://smccd.edu/strategicplan/scorecard-and-metrics.php). That means that 80% DO NOT graduate on time. This is below the national average for community colleges. I would prefer a focus on student learning and achievement, rather than aesthetics. If you have data indicating the colleges are among the nation’s top, I’d like to see it. Thanks.

      • Perhaps most students transfer. My impression is that most community college students are there to get some gen ed courses out of the way, do not intend to get a degree, then transfer to get a BA. Is there a way to see how many students transfer successfully?

        • Dear MiBro, that is an excellent question. The District does not provide a cohort analysis of the number of students who enter in a given year and transfer out within three years. I was able to find some information on the CCCCO data mart. For the most recent cohort available to document transfer within 3 years, about 13% of the students:

          California Community Colleges Chancellor’s Office
          Transfer Velocity Report

          Years to Transfer – 3 Years
          Cohort Year 2013-2014
          Transferred Student Cohort Student
          San Mateo CCD 322 2457

          Report Run Date As Of : 12/22/2021 12:42:45 PM

          Hope that helps.

          • The data above did not get published clearly. The cohort had 2,457 entering students in Fall 2013 and 322 transferred in three years by Spring 2016 for a rate of 13%. This, though, doesn’t answer your question as we don’t know how many of those 322 student transfers graduated and how many transferred BEFORE earning their degree.

      • The standard MO of many students is to do two or three years at a community college or other low tuition school and then transfer to a UC school such as Berkeley so they can get their degree at a more prestigious school. Smart approach if you don’t have financial help from your parents.

        • That is certainly true and in these times of accelerating higher ed costs, it certainly is a VERY smart move. The question is how many students succeed in doing that? If you look at my response to MiBro above, 13% is not a very encouraging picture. For those students who take four, five, six or more years to graduate or transfer from community college, the opportunity costs to them and the community is staggering.

  4. [Portion deleted — please don’t accuse people of crimes if they haven’t been charged.]

    also how does Jose get charged before Ron? It appears as if Ron is cooperating with the DA?

  5. I want to say I am shocked but can’t. The faculty and staff of the district we are constantly fight for every penny we get to serve our students. Get rid of Vice Chancellor salaries, starting with Mitch Bailey. Who has ever heard of a Vice Chancellor Chief of Staff. [Portion deleted — please don’t accuse people of crimes if they haven’t been charged.] Currently Skyline has a building and the floors are dangerous for individuals to walk on (the new building). Canada College has a new gym and a scoreboard designed for middle school. The faculty and staff are constantly fighting to get out of the benefits trap that requires they pay for their benefits and Managers get their benefits paid for by the district. Where is the equity.

  6. Mitch Bailey makes292,632 in regular Including fringe benefits, his compensation that year totaled $390,689?
    I will never vote for a Bond Measure

  7. As previously mentioned, these are overpaid administrators and there are alot of them at a district with declining enrollment. Why? Are they truly needed? Are these administrators ever evaluated? If so, by who, each other?
    Shouldn’t the county funded investment be in supporting the faculty and staff positions, as they are the employees who serve the students directly. The district should provide them with the benefits they deserve rather than them having to pay out of their own pockets.
    We will not support any bond measures for the community colleges until there is radical change of leadership in this district.

  8. What’s saddest about the big picture is the fact that there are great instructors and programs at CSM that truly serve students well. Like City College of SF, it’s the ADMIN that’s screwed up. I’ve met profs at CCSF and they’re fabulous! I really do think our community colleges are good educational institutions. I also really do think they could be operated better. I don’t understand the insanely high Admin salaries either. I’ll admit I’m quite curious to see the charges against Ron Galatolo – will they be the same as Nunez is facing or worse? Maybe it depends upon who was the “ringleader”. Such a maddening situation.

    • I agree with you that faculty and staff are dedicated to helping students succeed. They are passsionate and dedicated to their jobs, which are challenging and demanding. Higher education is a labor intensive industry and financial resources need to be allocated to improve student outcomes, rather than high administrative salaries and building attractive campuses. The District does not do a good job, in my professional opinion, of analyzing its data and metrics, desigining programs in response to those findings, so as to determine how best to use its resources to improve students’ lives.

      Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District. mreiner32205@gmail.com LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/michael-b-reiner-phd-14057551/

  9. Very unfortunate for the students, faculty and staff. Hoping all the corruption sees the light of day. If ya look over the past 10 years or so you see the financial decisions made by the chancellors didn’t have the students , faculty, staff and community interest in mind. For example, back around 2015 plans for building 1 for Skyline was in the works – 20+ new classrooms, new theater, and new music hall. Community was involved, blueprints were made, but all of the sudden building 12 was built and the new building 1 was never built. Doesn’t make sense, B12 only has 4 classrooms?!? And all of a sudden it was planned for generating revenue with external events and for the Chancellors to host their fancy galas. Since then Building 1 has asbestos, classrooms closed due to mold, old tech infrastructure, and a broken elevator which is supposedly being repaired. [Portion deleted — please don’t accuse people of crimes if they haven’t been charged. If you have information the DA would find useful, call (650) 363-4677. Deputy District Attorney Joe Cannon is heading the investigation team.]

  10. This is rhetorical:

    [Portion deleted — please don’t accuse people of crimes if they haven’t been charged. If you have information the DA would find useful, call (650) 363-4677. Deputy District Attorney Joe Cannon is heading the investigation team.]

    Lets see if the editor deletes this too.

  11. Also no one has been rude here as what you tend to see on FB/Youtube and yet comment after comment is getting deleted or censored here. Sad to see this is where we’re at.

  12. It is important to remember that a person is innocent until proven guilty. The fact that Nunez has been indicted does not necessarily make him guilty. The fact that Galatolo has been investigated by the DA does not make him guilty. I was always concerned that the SMCCCD Board of Trustees, by the way they handled the Galatolo situation, did him a disservice and hung him in the court of public opinion without sufficient judicial review because they were not transparent. Unlike the way other higher ed Boards handle such crises, SMCCCD behaved in a way I consider amateur. This does not make me an apologist for Nunez and Galatolo. In contrast, I have been vocal in expressing my concerns. Nevertheless, I agree with “ex district employee” that building and renovation at Skyline may not have been in students’ best interest. Bad decisions, though, are not criminal, unless evidence is provided that a quid pro quo took place. If just bad judgment, or a self-interested agenda, throw the bums out!

  13. We totally agree with the Dr. Reiner, throw the buns out! Also as the ex District employee states the interest of their students, faculty and staff seems not what the administration invests in. The new building 1 at Cañada only has 1 academic classroom. How can that be when we were sold the bond language that this district would remodel and refurbish the buildings for academic programs for the students? How many students can fit into just the one classroom?

  14. Some staff have been aware of this for over a decade and tried to report it but the powers that be have always found a way to quash any evidence and rumours without follow up or investigation. I personally did – and finally they stand up and take notice.
    Surprises me that the likes of Galatolo can have over $200k of taxpayer dollars used to fight his cases. Hopefully Nunez won’t have the same but I really hope they pursue Galatolo to the full extent of the law! This guy is nothing compared to Galatolo and his corruption.

    • The newspapers did not specify whether Nunez was placed on “paid” or “unpaid” administrative leave by the current SMCCCD Board. When someone is indicted, as opposed to under investigations, one could argue that “unpaid” leave is appropriate. In contrast, Galatolo negotiated a new contract with the former Board in August of 2019 to assume the role of Chancellor Emeritus (a position that was not in the budget, is typically an honorary title, and an action that violated Board policy 2.17). Soon thereafter, and subsequent to the DA issuing a search warrant, the Board placed him on PAID administrative leave at $39,000 a month. At the time, Board Chair Goodman stated to the press that this action was unrelated to the DA’s investigation, but was not transparent as to other reasons.. Galatolo was paid a total of over $700,000 until February 6, 2021 when he was fired. The current Board claimed they will “claw back” this money; taxpayer dollars intended to help students, not line the pockets of fat cats. Have they?

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