Director of L.A. Trade Tech College foundation resigns amid scandal that could involve former RVC president
By Brandon Reid
Rhea Chung, executive director of the Los Angeles Trade Technical College foundation, has resigned amid an alleged scandal that could involve former Rock Valley College (RVC) President and current L.A. Trade Technical College President Roland “Chip” Chapdelaine.
According to an article by Abby Sewell in the Nov. 6 Los Angeles Times, Chung had been on paid administrative leave for 10 months “after an audit by the college district raised questions about the propriety of some bonuses and perks she received on top of her $113,000 annual salary.”
A follow-up audit also showed the possibility that Chapdelaine’s signature may “have been forged on nearly $100,000 in checks made out to Chung, including a $22,000 annual bonus and $1,500 monthly car allowance not allowed by district policy, and an additional $2,000 a month Chung received for running a youth orchestra,” the article reported.
An ongoing investigation into the case is being conducted by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
Chapdelaine received a vote of no confidence and was asked to resign by a faculty governing body at the L.A. tech college April 25. According to an April 26 report by Sewell, the no-confidence vote in Chapdelaine was the first in the college’s history.
The college’s Academic Senate voted 17-1, with six abstaining, in asking for Chapdelaine’s resignation.
Chapdelaine, who has been at L.A. Trade Technical College for five years, announced in April he plans to retire in June 2013. However, the no-confidence vote shows faculty are unwilling to wait for his retirement.
Chapdelaine was hired as president of RVC in 1997 and served until his termination in 2003. He was terminated by the RVC Board of Trustees in a unanimous 7-0 vote Jan. 13, 2003.
The removal of Chapdelaine from RVC came after five consecutive and unprecedented years of deficit spending that totaled $7.3 million; a downgrade of the college’s recognition status by the college’s governing agency, the Illinois Community College Board (ICCB); no-confidence votes by all three employee groups that totaled 204-28; legal costs that climbed each year during Chapdelaine’s tenure from about $48,000 in 1998 to about $460,000 in 2003; and at least $9.6 million in construction cost overruns.
Chapdelaine also persuaded RVC trustees three times to use a loophole in the tax-cap law to borrow a total of $61.8 million without a voter-approved referendum. The borrowed money was spent primarily on construction projects, such as the remodeled Student Center, remodeled Samuelson Road building, new Support Services Building, new athletic fields and new Starlight Theater.
Chapdelaine’s termination at RVC came after a series of articles by former RVC physical science laboratory manager and Rock River Times reporter Jeff Havens brought to light the mismanagement at the college. The articles drew an unsuccessful libel lawsuit by former RVC Trustee Donald B. Johannes and also earned Havens an Illinois Press Association award for the state’s best investigative news series.
To read more about Chapdelaine’s tenure and firing at RVC, read Havens’ article, “Chapdelaine terminated 7-0,” at http://rockrivertimes.com/1993/07/01/chapdelaine-terminated-7-o/.
After leaving RVC, Chapdelaine served for about a year as president of Cuyahoga Community College’s East Campus in Cleveland before leaving under pressure from the college’s faculty.
Prior to his tenure at RVC, Chapdelaine served as president of Cumberland County College in Vineland, N.J.; vice president of Mohave Community College in Kingman, Ariz.; and associate professor of biology, cluster and division chairman, acting dean of students, acting director of staff development and dean of instruction and academic affairs at Howard Community College in Columbia, Md.
From the Nov. 14-20, 2012, issue
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