COD subcommittee to study whether there is merit to allegations that Trustee Rubén Pérez violated the board’s Code of Ethics Standards of Practice

PALM DESERT — In response to written complaints against Trustee Rubén Pérez for College of the Desert’s Code of Ethics Standards of Practice, trustees are expected at their meeting on Thursday to appoint a subcommittee to review the allegations and make a report and recommendation back to the Board of Trustees in an open meeting, regarding the complaints.

In January, newly elected Trustee Joel Kinnamon, who represents Trustee Area 4 on the College of the Desert Board of Trustees, filed a complaint on behalf of district constituents and himself asking Board Chair Bonnie Stefan to place an item on the next board meeting to start a censure process against Trustee Rubén Pérez for his violations that occurred on the board’s dais, and other more recent actions that he believes, violated board policies. The process is set to begin Thursday when a subcommittee is named.

Based upon the findings of the investigation, the Board may take any and/or all of the following actions:

  1. No Violation. Determine that the alleged misconduct did not occur or was not a violation of the code of ethics and that no further action should be taken.
  2. Corrective Action Unnecessary. Determine that a violation occurred, but that the violating Trustee is unlikely to repeat the offense and therefore no corrective action is needed unless and until a future violation occurs.
  3. Warning. Find that a violation occurred and officially warn the Trustee specifically identifying the misconduct. The warning may direct the Trustee to take specified corrective action. Failure of the violating Trustee to take such corrective action may result in Reprimand.
  4. Reprimand. Find that a violation occurred and officially reprimand the Trustee, specifically identifying and condemning the misconduct. The Reprimand may include direction to the violating Trustee to undertake ethical training, perform restitution, or otherwise take specified corrective action. Failure of the violating Trustee to take such corrective action may result in Censure.
  5. Censure. Find that a violation occurred and censure the Trustee. Censure not only expresses the Board’s disapproval of the misconduct but expresses the Board’s disapproval of the Trustee based upon the Trustee’s likelihood of continuing with ethical misconduct as a Trustee. The Censure shall be made publicly.

The action taken by the board will be binding on the board member charged and on the board as a whole.

During the board meeting on Friday, Jan. 20, Kinnamon said, “Trustee Pérez sat here at this dais and delivered public comments that I believe violated Board Policy 2715, the Code of Ethics Standards of Practices for Trustees, by disparaging the work of previous trustees who served on this board; disparaging the work of former and current administrators, faculty and staff by describing them as part of a “cesspool;” accusing constituents in our community and our largest newspaper in the Valley of race lighting; and his continued political rhetoric that disparages my name and reputation, basically calling me a “racist,” again, from this dais.”

Uken Report reached out to Pérez to see what he had to say. Perez has told Uken he has nothing for which to apologize.

“I completely disagree with the censureship as it is my First Amendment right to speak my thoughts and feel this is a violation of that constitutional right,” Pérez told Uken Report. “Furthermore, my constituents elected me to speak truth to power and this censureship would prevent those same constituents who have historically been silenced to continue to be silenced. I know that as a Trustee it is my duty to speak up for those that cannot, and I intend to keep doing so.”

Following is what Pérez said on Jan. 20.

To be clear, the board is considering a formal censure, not to censor his speech. To ‘censor’ means to remove, block, or interfere with the communication of another. To ‘censure’, on the other hand, means “to find fault with and criticize as blameworthy.”


Image Sources

  • Code of Ethicx: Shutterstock