DA's Office investigating former community college chancellor, but reason shrouded in mystery | September 11, 2019 | Almanac | Almanac Online |

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News - September 11, 2019

DA's Office investigating former community college chancellor, but reason shrouded in mystery

by Angela Swartz

The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office has issued search warrants in connection with Ron Galatolo's tenure as San Mateo County Community College District chancellor. Galatolo recently left the chancellor's post.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe would not specify when the search warrants were issued and at what locations because the investigation is ongoing.

"There are allegations of improprieties with the construction and purchasing contracts and allegations of harassment of an employee," Wagstaffe said in an Aug. 29 email. "The warrants and affidavits have been sealed by court order."

The DA's Office has been investigating for a couple of months and "has a long way to go," he said.

On Aug. 12, the district announced that Galatolo would leave his post to become chancellor emeritus and work on a feasibility study to bring a California State University campus to the Peninsula. He is earning the same annual salary that he earned as chancellor: $467,700.

The contract for Galatolo's new position expires in March 2022, and is nonrenewable.

"The opportunity to have a CSU option at Canada College is a once in a life time opportunity for our county," college district board President Maurice Goodman said in a written statement. "We came to the mutual understanding that in order to give this dream the best opportunity for success, it was going to take the owner of the vision to focus solely on making this monumental goal into a reality. In my mind, there is no doubt that Ron Galatolo is the only person who can lead this effort."

The Palo Alto Daily Post recently obtained the separation agreement between Galatolo and the district through the California Public Records Act; the agreement said the two parties would craft a "mutually acceptable joint press release." It also states that district officials would stick to "talking points" when discussing Galatolo's departure.

The agreement prevents the district from suing Galatolo for anything he might have done as chancellor.

The Almanac requested a copy of the document on Sept. 6; the college district has not yet provided it.

Galatolo's profile on the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce website states that he resides in Menlo Park. Chamber officials could not be reached for comment on when the profile was last updated or to confirm his residence, and Wagstaffe said he is unsure where Galatolo lives.

District officials said in a prepared statement that it is important to avoid speculation or jumping to conclusions, and to allow the DA's Office to conclude the investigation.

"While the College District is unable to comment on a pending investigation, I can say that we are fully cooperating with the District Attorney's office," Goodman said. "The Board of Trustees is committed to full transparency and accountability in the management of the College District. Maintaining the trust of our community, staff, students and many supporters throughout the County and State is one of our highest priorities and we will take any steps necessary to maintain that trust."

Galatolo could not be reached for comment.

Mike Claire, College of San Mateo's president, is serving as acting chancellor.

Galatolo first joined the district as executive vice chancellor in 1999, following 11 years as controller for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, according to his Redwood City chamber profile.

A request to the SMCCCD office for information on when Galatolo was promoted to chancellor went unanswered.

The college district board is scheduled to interview representatives of search firms that could be hired to find a new chancellor at its Sept. 11 meeting.

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