Former PCC General Counsel Gail Cooper officially retired effective Aug. 17 after a five-year tenure which saw the school entangled in numerous legal scandals her hire was meant to prevent.
Cooper was PCC’s first-ever general counsel, appointed by bought-out former Superintendent-President Mark Rocha in 2011, and may be its last.
“PCC will not be replacing the position,” Superintendent-President Rajen Vurdien said in an email.
In April 2014 PCC settled a suit with former facilities supervisor Alfred Hutchings for $225,000 in which he claimed defamation, wrongful termination by the college and sexual harassment by Cooper.
According to a college spokesperson, the duties formerly handled by Cooper will now be split between the Office of Human Resources, which will manage responsibilities such as responding to public records requests, and external legal counsel “when circumstances dictate.”
Other legal trouble the school faced during Cooper’s tenure included the Board of Trustees being sued by non-profit organization Californians Aware for violating the Brown Act by not properly disclosing Rocha’s severance package. The severance package for $400,000 was later agreed to under the the proper disclosure procedures.
When asked about the details of the financial arrangement in a public records request, Cooper responded that those records “are protected by the attorney-client privilege,” according to the L.A Times.
Last year, former architecture instructor Coleman Griffith signed a settlement agreement with PCC that cleared him of sexual assault allegations. The settlement included language that required both parties to neither admit the truth of their claims, nor assert the lack of merit of their opponent’s claims.
The school was also found last year to have illegally canceled the winter intersession by not negotiating the 2012-13 calendar in good faith or in accordance to collective bargaining rules, according to the Public Employee Relations Board.
Other aspects of Cooper’s tenure include accusing former Academic Senate President Eduardo Cairo of violating “Board policy and state law” for forming a committee to evaluate the president and at least three instructors being accused of sexual misconduct.
Cooper was contacted and declined to comment.