The Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board voted Tuesday night to place Chancellor Bryan Reece on paid administrative leave because of undisclosed personnel matters.
Board President Andy Li, whose district includes most of the San Ramon Valley, confirmed the surprise news in an email to the district community on Wednesday morning. Mojdeh Mehdizadeh, executive vice chancellor of education and technology, has been named acting chancellor.
"At our special meeting last night, the Governing Board placed Chancellor Bryan Reece on administrative leave with pay due to personnel matters. The Governing Board has appointed Mojdeh Mehdizadeh to serve as acting chancellor until further notice. We ask for your support of Mojdeh during this time," Li wrote.
In an email to CCCCD staff, Mehdizadeh said, "I know that you may have questions. As with any personnel matter, please respect the process and the individual during this time. I ask that we focus our collective energies on supporting our students and one other."
"Thank you for the wonderful words of support already coming through," Mehdizadeh added. "I am deeply committed to working collaboratively with all of you, my 4CD community."
No additional details about the administrative action involving Reece nor the underlying personnel matter will be released publicly at this stage for confidentiality reasons, according to Tim Leong, director of communications and public relations at the district.
"We are following our process to ensure the investigation is thorough and conducted in a fair and objective manner," Leong said, adding that Mehdizadeh's appointment "is giving confidence to our employees that the District will have steady and experienced leadership during this time, and help our dedicated employees continue their focus on serving our students and our communities while this matter is being resolved."
An audio recording of the open portions of Tuesday's special board meeting is expected to be uploaded to the district website on Thursday.
Reece did not respond to requests for comment on Wednesday.
News of the leave comes just under a year since Reece, a former president of Norco College in Riverside County, was appointed as the district's new chancellor just weeks before the 2020 general election when two board positions would change hands. The district has faced multiple cabinet-level personnel changes in the past year.
Li declined to comment specifically on the Reece situation when contacted Wednesday, but he did say generally, "Hopefully with some changes, we can have more stable leadership and help to stabilize the whole district."
Li said that he's eager for things to settle down, in terms of personnel changes at the district, as well as the pandemic. With firmer ground under the district's feet, Li said he hopes they can maximize the potential of the county's community colleges moving forward.
"The college that serves our area (Ward 4), Diablo Valley College, is one of the best," Li said, citing the high rates of student transfers to top-choice schools such as UC Berkeley. "We have a great college, and we do face some challenges here with the leadership change."
Editor's note: This story will be updated as more information becomes available.