Enholm questions timing of investigation’s release


Daniel Hernandez / The Advocate

Governing Board Trustee Greg Enholm was the subject of an anonymous complaint filed in November 2019. An investigation soon followed with allegations and Board Policy violations.

By Daniel Hernandez, Social Media Editor

After an anonymous complaint was filed, the Contra Costa Community College District Governing Board followed through with an investigation against Trustee Greg Enholm over allegations of inappropriate communications and violations of several board policies.

In the complaint filed on Nov. 6, 2019, it states that Enholm allegedly harassed former Chancellor Fred Wood in an attempt to advocate for the reclassification of an unnamed professor to be hired as president of Contra Costa College.

The District Office contracted attorney investigator Justin Kochan from Van Dermyden Maddux, an independent law firm that conducts Title IX campus investigations, to research Enholm’s case. Kochan did not respond to requests for comment.

The investigation was concluded by the attorney and his findings were put together in a letter written by Governing Board President Rebecca Barrett, addressed to Enholm, released publicly July 8.

The investigation concluded that Enholm did make inappropriate communications to Wood on behalf of the unnamed professor on two occasions, but did not make ‘veiled threats’ to Wood, as initially stated in the complaint.

The investigation was taken on shortly after the complaint was submitted. The letter notes that the attorney investigator reached out to Enholm four times between Jan. 28 and Feb. 18 and he declined to respond to allegations at each opportunity.

Public and internal district documents surrounding the investigation were reviewed by The Advocate for this story, including documents leaked by the 4CD Board Dysfunction webpage. The anonymous website shared District documents along with criticisms of district leadership.

The website was updated after the election with a message of thanks to the county voters. The rest of the site’s contents, including documents, have been removed.


Allegations and Findings

The first allegation regards Enholm’s first attempt to lobby for the unnamed professor in July 2019. The original complaint says, “[…] It is believed that Mr. Enholm’s friend (unnamed professor) is not qualified for that promotion or to be president of CCC.”

After the District Office rejected the unnamed professor’s reclassification request, Enholm sent emails to Wood that continued to push for special requests.

A timeline simplifies events regarding the investigation. (Daniel Hernandez / The Advocate)

The incident report also reveals an extended email chain that went between Enholm, Wood, college Human Resources Specialist Rose Orpilla, Director of Human Resources Dio Shipp and the professor. All were unavailable for comment except for Enholm.

Enholm’s first email was about an ‘opening statement’ that was to be used with supporting documents to advocate for the professor’s reclassification on July 28, 2019.

The second allegation relates to an incident in October 2019, where Enholm allegedly pressed Wood to give the professor an interview for the permanent college president position.

In the final email shown in the document, Enholm writes to the professor (with Shipp copied), advising the professor to ask Shipp for the reasons he wasn’t given an interview.

The email, dated Oct. 23, 2019, also includes a line of text that, according to the investigation, Enholm “ghostwrote” for the professor to send Shipp—suggesting that Enholm was doing work on behalf of the professor.

The email states, “Dear Associate Vice Chancellor Dio Shepp: Please email me the reason(s) I was not invited for the interim Contra Costa College President position.”

The third allegation said that Enholm used veiled threats toward Wood when lobbying for the professor, but that was not sustained.

Enholm said in an interview that the professor was highly qualified for the position and that his simple inquiry about the professor’s candidacy turned into a mess.

“I plead no contest to that because I feel I was doing my job. The professor himself was the one complaining,” Enholm said.

In reference to the first allegation, Enholm said, “I stand behind what I have done.”

He said the second and third allegations were “nonsense” and that the release of such information by the board is unethical.

Violations and Resolution

With the first and second allegations sustained, Enholm was found in violation of Board Policies 1010 and 1022 when he made multiple special requests to benefit the professor in the emails sent in July and October 2019. BP 1022 prohibits members of the board making special requests of the Chancellor.

The investigation also found him in violation of BP 2057 because of the emails where he advocated for the professor, and because of a phone call between Enholm and Wood. In the call, Enholm asked the professor to be named college president after he was already screened out by the established screening and interviewing committee.

This was found to be a violation of the procedures set in place for hiring contract administrators.

Prior to the public release of the investigation, Enholm signed a resolution agreement with Barrett on July 2.

In the resolution, Enholm agreed to copy Barrett in any written communication that is sent to the 4CD chancellor, as well as refrain from advocating on behalf of any candidate or any employee within the district, or influencing the hiring of candidates for district employment. He was still allowed to refer candidates to the chancellor or District Board.

They also agreed to disclose that a resolution was reached, following the complaint that was filed in an open session board meeting.

Enholm felt that the clauses in the resolution were fair, he said.

Election Season and Editorial Controversy

In August, a self-evaluation of the District Board stated they are “facing a crisis” and “dysfunctional and unwilling to work as a unit.” This reflects the conflicts between board members and the distrust they share among each other, according to the evaluation.

The release of Enholm’s investigation comes at the same time as Trustee Vicki Gordon’s investigation over complaints of harassment and misconduct—which was also made public in a letter written by Barrett on the same date.

The East Bay Times released an editorial on Oct. 18 where they accused Trustee Barrett of purposefully timing the release of both investigations to align with election season.

Both Enholm and Gordon were running for reelection on the 2020 ballot in Wards 5 and 2, respectively.

Enholm shared frustration about the situation and the timing.

“[It’s strange that] the early dates of this (investigation) were March and July and we waited until the election to reveal them?”

After repeated attempts, Barrett did not respond to any requests for comment surrounding the investigation.

The editorial also features a full endorsement for Gordon and a tepid endorsement for Enholm’s opponent Fernando Sandoval.

The Editorial states: “We’ve had long-standing concerns about Enholm’s abrasive style and meddling beyond his appropriate role as trustee.”

Sandoval has also been endorsed by the United Faculty union of the district.

“All the actions I took were as a duly elected trustee and I will fight for me to represent my constituents,” he said. “I will not let anyone tell me what I can and cannot do as long as it’s appropriate.”

Enholm was defeated by Sandoval in the Ward 5 Trustee race Nov. 3.

Sandoval will now represent Ward 5, which represents Los Medanos College and the Brentwood Center in the northeast region of Contra Costa County.