After being placed on paid administrative leave two weeks ago for the second time in his tenure, the embattled chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District is making his exit, following just over a year on the job.
The district's five trustees voted unanimously Wednesday night to accept a resignation agreement with Bryan Reece, which will see him paid out the remainder of the salary dictated by his contract, more than $133,000, with other benefits such as health insurance set to continue for the remaining seven months of his term. An additional term of the agreement is that Reece and the district refrain from seeking damages against one another.
"The Governing Board and Dr. Reece have mutually decided to part ways," Governing Board President Judy E. Walters said in a statement after the meeting. "We thank Dr. Reece for his service to the District, and wish him well as he relocates to Southern California to spend more time with his family."
Reece, who started with the district in November 2020, had been on paid administrative leave for undisclosed personnel reasons since a special governing board meeting on Feb. 2, in another unanimous vote by the board.
Previously, he was put on paid administrative leave on Sept. 14, then reinstated, following more than an hour of public comments on the matter, on Oct. 1. Both decisions were made in 3-2 votes by the board, with district officials citing an investigation into undisclosed personnel matters.
In addition to accepting Reece's resignation, the board also formally voted to appoint executive vice chancellor Mojdeh Mehdizadeh as interim chancellor, and to amend her contract accordingly on Wednesday.
"With more than 30 years of experience at the District, mostly in executive leadership roles, the Governing Board is confident Mojdeh provides the steady and stable leadership needed to help advance the District's mission and vision," said an announcement from the district on Thursday.
Mehdizadeh's contract as interim chancellor sees her paid a salary of $357,714 annually, with two weeks of retroactive pay for her time as acting chancellor during Reece's prior leave last September.
Her appointment as interim chancellor formally commenced as of Wednesday, and the contract runs through June 30, 2024, unless replaced by a permanent chancellor. If replaced, she would return to her executive vice chancellor position through 2025, according to the updated contract.
Compared with the previous terms of her contract, the contract for Mehdizadeh's position as interim chancellor sees her receive a pay increase of about $50,000 annually, up from $307,516 in the latest amended version, approved by the board last July.
Under the terms of Reece's most recently amended contract, approved by the board last October, he received a 2% pay increase from his first year on the job, putting his salary at $321,300 annually. The 2% pay raise, up from his initial annual pay of $315,500 when hired in October 2020, was slightly less than the terms of his contract stipulated for meeting or exceeding minimum requirements of the job, according to his performance evaluation.
While district officials continue to decline to provide further information on why Reece was put on leave, and ultimately resigned, his tenure in the district began under rocky circumstances, in which he was selected for the position after the only other finalist withdrew from consideration and the district's search for a permanent chancellor was interfered with by the pandemic.
The chancellor position was previously filled, on an interim basis, by executive vice chancellor Eugene Huff, who filed a complaint against the district, and later joined two other former district administrators, Dio Shipp and Jonah Nicholas, alleging public records act violations and discrimination.
While allegations from Huff, Shipp and Nicholas go back to before Reece's time at the district, Reece is implicated heavily in the public records suit, which accuses him of interfering in an internal investigation into a faculty member employed by the district.
Reece was also the subject of allegations in an email from an unconfirmed sender to trustees, district officials and media outlets last summer, suggesting foul play in the request for proposals (RFP) process for marketing services aimed at increasing enrollment.
Specifically, the sender pointed out that the same company that had assisted in drafting the RFP, VisionPoint Marketing, had gone on to be awarded the unusually pricey, $10 million contract. The governing board later voted to rescind that contract, instead awarding a contract with a lower price tag to Interact Communications.
In addition, the email pointed out that Reece had been president of Norco College in Riverside County, when VisionPoint was awarded a $150,000 contract there. Reece was fired from his position at Norco College in 2019, after three years on the job, for unspecified reasons.