State Retirement Agency Rejects Chancellor’s New Salary

District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez (left) currently earns over $300,000 each year. The nameplates do not reflect the individuals’ names, as they are angled away from their respective person. / Nikki Nelsen / el Don

State retirement officials have rejected District Chancellor Raul Rodriguez’s new salary, after determining that it violates retirement law.

The board of trustees approved the new contract last year, integrating former relocation expenses totaling $30,000 annually, meant to compensate for the Chancellor’s move to Orange County, into his regular salary. Rodriguez has received the allowance for about seven years, beginning in 2010.

According to state law, relocation expenses cannot factor into one’s retirement, as it could affect overall final pension payment.

“[California Public Employees’ Retirement System] calculates pension by measuring the individual’s one or three-year average,” said CalPERS Information Officer Amy Morgan.

Documents sent by RSCCD to CalPERS did not report Rodriguez’s base salary with the allowance included. The district provided two permanent Chancellor salary schedules covering two fiscal years, reporting all compensation prior to July 1 last year.

The two outdated schedules cover the 2015-2016 and 2016-2017 fiscal years, showing his annual base salary of $265,443.61 and $268,257.31, respectively. Both include his housing allowance under an additional compensation category.

“Somebody had to alert CalPERS that the district was not following retirement law, because Rodriguez certainly didn’t. Rodriguez has been a college CEO for over two decades and he should have known what is and is not creditable compensation,” said Santiago Canyon Community College counselor and Faculty Association of RSCCD board member Barry Resnick, leading him to provide an updated salary schedule.

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The revised schedule, covering the 2017-2018 fiscal year, removes the housing allowance and shows an annual base salary just over $300,000. The board approved the request Sept. 11, almost one week after the initial CalPERS review in August.

“CalPERS is working with RSCCD to correct his salary schedule and remove the relocation pay, so that it will be in compliance with the retirement law,” writes CalPERS representative David Teykaerts in an email to Resnick, assuring CalPERS is placing his account under an administrative hold and will conduct a review prior to calculating his final retirement payout.

“I was not aware what the CalPERS decision would be, but I am OK with not getting [the relocation allowance] as part of retirement,” Rodriguez said. “The money I receive is the same. How is that a raise?”

Under Rodriguez’s leadership, both Santa Ana and Santiago Canyon colleges are experiencing dwindling enrollment numbers, while SAC continues to undergo large-scale construction projects. Rodriguez has also met controversy for the district’s overseas education plans in Saudi Arabia.

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