Representatives of a nonprofit organization investigating SBCC’s Board of Trustees claimed during Thursday’s board meeting that the trustees violated the Brown Act by failing to disclose their evaluation of SBCC President Andreea Serban.

Ray O’Connor, president of Take Back SBCC, also announced that the Accrediting Commission of Community and Junior Colleges intends to visit the campus this fall to inspect its administration, in response to a letter filed by his organization.

“When the accrediting commission decides to pay a visit, they are demonstrating an extreme concern about what has been reported and verified to them,” O’Connor told the board.

The trustees did not respond to comments made by O’Connor or the group’s attorney, Robert Ostrove of Hathaway Law Firm.

“I’m disputing anything that happened in that session is public information,” board president Peter Haslund told Noozhawk on Friday.

Haslund said that to disclose information on the board’s confidential evaluation of Serban would violate the Brown Act because even after three meetings totaling 12 hours of discussion, the trustees didn’t take any action. He acknowledged that the accrediting commission is visiting because of the seriousness of the complaint, but said he he is not concerned and welcomes speaking with the representatives.

“It’s easy enough to make a charge, it’s not so easy to sustain that charge,” he said.

Haslund said that as of Friday he had not read the letter sent by the accrediting commission to Serban, and that he wants to discuss it with the entire board before commenting on it. Scroll down to read the letter.

“If the commission investigation yields credible evidence that indicates a systematic problem that calls into question the institution’s ability to meet commission standards and policies, the commission may invoke the sanctions provided for in policy,” Barbara Beno, president of the accrediting commission, wrote in a letter sent to Serban on Tuesday.

O’Connor said Serban is the best SBCC president he has worked with since he was hired to teach in 1963. The emeritus professor in SBCC’s Chemistry Department also has served as president of the Academic Senate and represented the Instructors Association.

The trustees annually review Serban’s performance as the college president. By receiving a satisfactory review she receives another year on her four-year contract.

O’Connor said Take Back SBCC hired an attorney and registered with the California Secretary of State’s Office after SBCC trustee Marty Blum said the board had sent a letter to Serban on June 8 about the board’s evaluation of her.

Ostrove told the board Thursday that in not reporting the findings of the evaluation and how the trustees voted, they were in violation of the Brown Act, which governs meeting access for local public bodies, because decisions regarding Serban’s employment must be disclosed.

O’Connor later said that if the trustees continued to withhold Serban’s evaluation, which he asserts is a violation of the state open-meeting law, then it is possible that the commission could revoke its accreditation of SBCC. Such a move would jeopardize SBCC’s grant eligibility and students’ ability to transfer credits to other institutions, O’Connor said.

Meanwhile, SBCC is staring down a projected budget cut of $4.2 million to $5.2 million, Serban told the board.

Santa Barbara resident Jim Wesby commended Serban on her response to the crisis.

“I’m sure she and her staff didn’t know about these future cuts when she was making these changes,” he said, “but the leadership and foresight put this college in a better position to deal with this $5.2 million (in cuts).”

Noozhawk intern Daniel Langhorne can be reached at news@noozhawk.com. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

Accrediting Commission for Community & Junior Colleges Letter