Mt. SAC Speech Instructor Alleges Discrimination by Management

The college’s board puts changes to policies on whistleblowers and ethics on the agenda, upholds decision


Joumana McGowan (left) and Julie Laverty (right) speak before the Board of Trustees’ closed session on Feb. 27. Photo Credit/Joshua Sanchez/SAC.Media.

Roughly five hours after a forum on the next potential police chief, and directly following a ribbon cutting ceremony at the student equity center, a professor made allegations against an individual in management at Mt. SAC before an early closed session at the board of trustees.

Speech professor Julie Laverty alleged that Associate Vice President of Instruction, Joumana McGowan, discriminated against her on Oct. 12 at a guided pathways meeting.

McGowan provided a different account and said that in an investigation that began on Nov. 7 she was cleared of wrongdoing on all 12 allegations that were submitted after that singular meeting.

McGowan’s account of events is as follows:

McGowan said that former Interim Vice President of Instruction Gregory Anderson appointed her to serve as supervisor over two faculty members: the full time faculty coordinator and the adjunct faculty professional development coordinator.

McGowan then added she hosted a meeting in October In order to clarify the job description for the assignment,

“The specific purpose of the meeting was to review the job descriptions to clarify and determine the tasks that are needed to be accomplished by the two faculty members by the two faculty members I now supervise,” McGowan said before the board.

In reviewing the job descriptions McGowan said it became clear that the adjunct and full time pathways professional development coordinators were to attend and work closely with the guided pathways steering committee.

McGowan then alleges that Laverty made it clear she did not want to attend any guided pathways meetings, and said this would make it impossible for Laverty to develop an appropriate development plan.

Laverty’s account of events is as follows:

Laverty said she entered the meeting excited to share an 11 page packet, and said that after 50 minutes of intentional humiliation she had no choice but to let go of the job.

“Once people heard about what happened, they started reaching out with their own stories, and after receiving seven stories of similar accounts of Joumana’s bullying, harassment, lies, and discrimination I realized I wasn’t alone,” Laverty said before the board.

Scroggins then said that Laverty must address the event that led to the complaint, which Laverty said was the next sentence.

“Throughout the packet I submitted, I demonstrated how my case meets the legal criteria for adverse employment action. constructive discharge, hostile work environment and verbal harassment,” Laverty added.

Laverty then alleged that her physical features were mocked in front of people who can control her future in management. She said that McGowan made a comment about Laverty’s hair and laughed after another individual drew stick figures on the board.

She added the testimony of witnesses who said that they could understand Laverty taking offense and another who reportedly said Laverty looked like she wanted to cry.

Laverty then said she was being accused of being a liar, overly emotional, and committing fraud. Laverty then alleged McGowan still tells people that Laverty committed fraud and told the Academic Senate board that Laverty had a history of leaving reassigned positions which would affect Laverty’s reputation and chances to get a reassigned position in the future.

Another speech instructor, Crystal Lane Swift Ferguson, spoke before the board attesting to Laverty’s character.

“She has been called a liar and I simply wanted to address that her character, in my experience over the last 11 years, is that she has the character of a person with integrity in her work,” Ferguson said before the board. “We’ve worked on several projects together, in fact, there have been times where she’s called me out for things that she doesn’t agree with, so I know that she is a truth-telling individual.”

There were no other speakers after Ferguson, and the board recessed into closed session for over two hours.

There were four items on the open session agenda (which started at 7 p.m. because of the 4:45 p.m. closed session; closed sessions are normally at 6 p.m. with the regular meeting at 6:30 p.m.) related to policies on ethics and whistleblowers.

The four policies were Administrative Procedure 7700 Whistleblower Protection. Board Policy 7700 Whistleblower Protection, AP 3050 Institutional Code of Ethics and BP 3050 Institutional Code of Ethics, but the board did not discuss any of the potential changes at the meeting after discussing Community Workforce Agreements for an hour and a half.

The board also ruled to uphold the decision.

Clarification: March 4, 8:35 p.m.;

It was originally reported that “the board also ruled to uphold the appeal” and this was changed to “the board also ruled to uphold the decision” to more accurately describe the ruling.

The actual audio transcript of the decision is: “The board of trustees upheld the administrative determination for the unlawful discrimination complaint.”

Correction: March 5, 12:54 p.m.;

References to “appeal” in the subheadline were also changed to “decision” to reflect this.