Filling the Trustee Area 3 Vacancy is Among Items Trustees Will Decide on Friday

PALM DESERT — How to fill the Trustee Area 3 vacancy on the College of the Desert Board of Trustees is one of the first action items Trustees will consider when they meet for the first time in two months on Friday, April 21.

Trustees will publicly acknowledge Trustee Area 3 Fred Jandt’s resignation, which he submitted March 13, effective March 31. The board did not meet in March due to lack of quorum.

Trustee Area 3 includes parts of Cathedral City and Palm Springs where the college’s $300 million-plus expansion campus is scheduled to be built.

Jandt, who served as board vice-chair, assumed office in 2016 and won a second term in 2020. That term was slated to end in 2024.

Trustees basically have two options: Hold a special election or appoint someone to fill the vacancy.

The recommendation, according to the agenda, is to appoint someone to fill the vacant Trustee Area 3 position to help save money.

The base cost for a Special Election is $3.50 per voter. Based on the current voter registration as of March 21, the cost of a special election would be $180,000, according to Matthew Ceballos, Chief Deputy Registrar of Voters for the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.

If a provisional appointment is made, it shall be subject to conditions according to California Education Code policy:

  • The person appointed to the position shall hold office only until the next regularly scheduled election for District Board members — that would be November 2024.
  • The provisional appointment will be made by a majority public vote of the board members at a public meeting.
  • The Superintendent/President shall establish administrative procedures to solicit applications that assure ample publicity to, and information for, prospective candidates.
  • The board will determine the schedule and appointment process, which may include interviews at a public meeting.

Before he resigned, Jandt was serving on a board subcommittee with Chair Bonnie Stefan to investigate whether Trustee Ruben Perez’s conduct during a public COD Trustees’ meeting merits a censure, according to board policy.

It is currently unclear how Jandt’s resignation might affect the investigation.

In January, Trustee Kinnamon and members of the public asked the board to censure Perez for comments Kinnamon alleged “disparaged” former trustees and former and current administrators and faculty as well as “political rhetoric (that) disparages my name and reputation, basically calling me a racist, again, from this dais.”

In February, Stefan said she was obligated to create a subcommittee to review “multiple written complaints about Trustee Perez alleging that he violated provisions of the district Board Policy 2715,” which is COD’s code of ethics for trustees.

Her subcommittee was to review charges against Perez with COD counsel and allow Perez an opportunity to respond to the charges before making a report on its investigation and recommendation for next steps during a public meeting.

Perez could receive a warning, reprimand or censure.


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