Former Dean of ATAS files suit against SOCCCD for unpaid compensation

The Advanced Technology and Applied Science Division offers various career certificates in technology-based programs at Saddleback College. (Photograph/Anibal Santos)

Gina La Monica served as the Dean of The Advanced Technology and Applied Science Division for four months before being terminated last November. (Photograph/Anibal Santos)

Former Dean of Advanced Technology and Applied Science Gina La Monica filed a demand letter against the South Orange County Community College District. La Monica was hired June 2014, then fired and escorted off campus by police in October and in November the Board of Trustees affirmed her termination.

Former ATAS Dean Gina La Monica was terminated last year from her position , without any explanation from the college. (Photo courtesy of Gina La Monica)

Former ATAS Dean Gina La Monica was terminated last year from her position , without any explanation from the college. (Photo courtesy of Gina La Monica)

According to the first lawsuit filed by La Monica’s previous attorney, Joshua A. Burt, she was unjustly terminated upon recommendation by Vice President of Instruction Kathy Werle, who did not want La Monica to be the division’s dean. Werle declined comment on the issue.

The lawsuit states:

“From day one, it became clear that Saddleback College’s Vice President of Instruction did not want Dr. La Monica as her Dean. She much preferred the predecessor acting Dean. However, The President overruled the VPI and Dr. La Monica was given the job. From that point on, the VPI made every effort to discredit and disparage Dr. La Monica and fabricated evidence for her termination.”

La Monica said via a phone interview she has not been compensated for her work at the college or been given an explanation for her termination. She said she plans to go all the way with her claim and hold those responsible for her wrongful termination.

“They did unethical things to me,” La Monica said. “Everyone is scared to talk about what happened to me. They are afraid of retaliation from the college.”

Saddleback’s spokesperson Jennie McCue, as well as President Tod Burnett, the latter who approved La Monica’s hire, also declined comment on this matter.

SOCCCD Vice Chancellor of Human Resources and Employer/Employee Relations David Bugay also declined to comment on the matter.

La Monica’s current attorney Gregory B. Wilbur of Anticouni & Associates said via a telephone interview, at the time of her hiring, La Monica had 20 more months left on her contract and the college didn’t live up to its contract with La Monica.

Wilbur said he doesn’t understand why the college would have campus security escort La Monica off from campus. He said there was no justification or reason for it, but it only served to humiliate her.

La Monica said she was very sad and disappointed for how she was terminated.

“This has been very sad,” she said. “I thought the campus was beautiful. The deans are great. There are some great students there too.”

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