Home Breaking News Peter Sysak censured and removed from presidency

Peter Sysak censured and removed from presidency

Cuesta cougar statue. Photo by Hannah Halferty

On Dec. 9 the Cuesta College Board of Trustees completed the censure of Pete Sysak, and once again requested for him to step down. 

Syask did not listen to his colleges and lashed out in response to the censure. 

“The ad hoc committee — appointed by the board of trustees to review my Facebook shares — in public session asked for my resignation, demonstrating their obvious bias,” Sysak said during a recent board meeting. “They have acted as judge, prosecutor and jury and their conclusion is one you would expect from a third-world kangaroo court system. (College) administration and the board of trustees have, in my opinion, demonstrated political cowardice in not recognizing the First Amendment to our Constitution.”

While Sysak can not technically be fired from his position, the board of trustees voted to replace him with Mary Strobridge as president and Patrick Mullen as the vice president of the board. 

The only disciplinary action that can be taken against Sysak is censure. The public continues to push for his resignation; however, there are not many ways to remove Sysak. 

“Firing a trustee is beyond the scope of options that is available to an elected governing board,” said Jill Sterns, President and Superintendent of Cuesta College. 

The two ways in which he would leave his position are either voters recalling him, or for Sysak himself to step down. Sysak has shown no intention of stepping down despite every fellow board member recommending that he do so, in addition to public backlash. 

“Censure is the most serious of actions that a board can take in addressing one of their members,” Sterns said.

On Nov. 13, Cuesta College’s Academic Senate approved a resolution calling for censure and resignation of Pete Sysak. On Nov. 19, the council of representatives endorsed the resolution against Sysak. 

The resolution calls for the immediate resignation of Sysak for his violation of the district’s mission, values and code of ethics. 

The resolution states that Sysak has repeatedly demonstrated blatant disregard for access to safe learning and work environments for the students and staff of Cuesta College through his social media posts that are openly racist, violent, homophobic, Islamophobic and misogynistic. 

“The Academic Senate of Cuesta College condemns the President of the Board of Trustees, Pete Sysak, for failing to fulfill his fiduciary responsibility to the San Luis Obispo Community College District and the people he was elected to serve,” states the resolution. 

The college administration is being forced to respond to public outrage over Sysak’s posts and actions. The school published a guide for responding to the actions of Sysak. The guide discusses several methods as to how an individual can take action in support of his resignation. 

The college held an open forum to give faculty the opportunity to ask questions regarding the impact of Sysak’s actions on Nov. 25. The meeting also discussed some of the ways Cuesta College is implementing equity in teaching instruction and student success. 

In the meeting, Cuesta Pride club president Dylan M.C. Baker spoke about how the club has been trying to get a rainbow flag put up at the school and has been unable to get approval from the school board.

“We want to make some actual representation, you are talking about feeling safe on campus if you see a rainbow flag you at least know these people do not hate me. So when you talk about this let’s pull something into action because there are a lot of people here that do not see anything,” Baker said.

Several meeting attendees were curious if the board of trustees members receive anti-bias or social justice training.

“There are a number of opportunities annually presented by the California Community College League for trustees, there are advocacy workshops and the league convention and all of those have very specific training for trustees around their role, understanding the mission of California Community Colleges of which social justice is interwoven,” Sterns said. 

On Dec. 9, the Board of Trustees welcomed in two new members, Dana Stroud and Debra Stakes who will be replacing trustees Angela Mitchell and Barbara George.