Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Rio Hondo College Newspaper

El Paisano

Hearing set for Butler

A hearing has been scheduled July 10 before the State Personnel Board for former Director of Activities Cathy Butler who claims her contract was not renewed in retaliation of her “whistleblowing.”

Butler accuses former President Ted Martinez Jr., district employee Hannah Pastrano, Associate Dean of Students Services Michael Munoz, Director of Human Resources Yolanda Emerson, and Vice President for Student Services Henry Gee of  permitting “intimidation and harassment” for reporting “questionable financial practices,” in the complaint.

Martinez has retired from his post as Superintendent/President of Rio Hondo effective June 30.

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She filed the complaint earlier this year for the State Personnel Board to investigate the role the employees had in her retaliation and recommending her termination from the school district.

She claims the retaliation occurred when she received a letter from the school district around Jan.11 informing her that her contract was not been renewed for a 14th year.

Her attorney, Ronald Vera, said the public agenda from the January board meeting made no reference to Butler and that she was unaware about the board reviewing her situation.

The January agenda on the college’s website listed “employee discipline/dismissal/release” according to Vera. Vera also stated that there was no explanation given for the action.

The entire matter comes from Butler discovering discrepancies in requisition forms prepared by Pastrano.

“I determined that the forms, calling for the payment of monies to one or more various individuals, did not have the proper documentation, and the information on one or more of the requisition forms was incorrect “, Butler said.

Butler claims that Pastrano admitted to falsifying documents to “generate payment of monies to her and possibly others who may have been employed in the district.”

Butler said Pastrano admitted once again to falsifying paperwork during a June 22, 2011 meeting with Munoz and Emerson. Pastrano was placed on administrative leave and thereafter was escorted off the campus.

In August, Butler learned that Pastrano had resigned.

During this time, Butler learned of the district’s “whistleblower protection” policy where she was encouraged by the college to report “suspected activities of unlawful or improper activities without fear of retaliation.”

Butler stated, “As a result of my reporting in June 2011, to my supervisors, that an employee of the Rio Hondo Community College District was engaged in improper governmental activities.”

“But for the disclosure of the improper activities, I would have stayed in my position as director of student activities,” Butler said.

She also accused Martinez who under false pretenses made her take personal and vacation leave beginning Sept. 7, 2011, “solely for the purpose of undertaking a clandestine investigation of my office files.”

She stated that her office had undergone annual financial audits without her records ever being questioned.

Butler claims the investigation was unjustifiable.

She was verbally informed by Emerson that she had committed fraud in carrying out her work on Sept. 26.

Butler is seeking reinstatement of her position and for her contract to be renewed for the 2012-13 school year with reimbursement of pay, benefits, sick leave and vacation with interest starting from Jan. 11.

She is also seeking for the reports from the investigation to be expunged from the district’s records including a performance assessment made to the board, $25,000 in emotional distress and $10,000 for her lawyer’s fees.

In an alternative to reinstatement, Butler is seeking a similar position with comparable pay and benefits for this academic year.

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