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Kathleen Winn Files Open Meetings Complaint Against Other Maricopa County Community College District Board Members

STEVE GOLDSTEIN: The Maricopa County Community College District, which holds KJZZ's license, continues to be embroiled in rough controversy. Members of its own governing board have turned on each other. They've hired investigators to look into their actions as board members, publicly lambasted one another and openly have sought to remove one another from the governing board. And joining me right now is Michel Marizco, who has been reporting on this from the KJZZ Fronteras Desk. Michel, good morning.

MICHEL MARIZCO: Hey, good morning.

GOLDSTEIN: Alright, the latest news now. A board member is on the defensive against other board members and has even asked the attorney general's office to intervene. What's going on there?

MARIZCO: Yeah. So, Kathleen Winn, she's a Maricopa County Community College District board member. She was the focus of the controversy when it erupted about a month ago. According to the Arizona Republic, which got a hold of this complaint, she's filed in Arizona open meetings law complaint saying that other board members are conspiring against her. She went to the attorney general's office to file this. This isn't a small complaint here. This is quite a magnitude and an escalation.

GOLDSTEIN: So Winn shared some information with you recently. She obviously has a real strong opinion on this. What's her side of the story?

MARIZCO: Yeah, so she shared a letter from the search consultant. Let me go back here briefly. The governing board had formed a committee to search for a chancellor for all of the community colleges in the district. They had used a search committee. They're not supposed to have individual conversations with the search consultant that then didn't hire — sort of a headhunter to find them candidates. If they're going to have any sort of conversation, it's supposed to be as a group. It's supposed to be under certain protocols and guidelines. So Ms. Winn's shared with us a letter written by that search consultant a few days ago saying that he had actually been having these off-the-record, so to speak, conversations with various board members, but that the investigation only was after Kathleen Winn. And this sort of bolsters her argument that there was as a broader conversation, broader targeting of her when other board members are apparently doing the same thing.

GOLDSTEIN: And there was a pretty serious event last week, when some of the governing board's (members) actually asked Winn to respond, and even some had asked her to resign. What was Winn's response to all that?

MARIZCO: Yes. So we'll go ahead and play this bit of tape here.

KATHLEEN WINN: My answer is not no, but hell no. I respectfully decline your request to resign.

MARIZCO: Yeah, they asked her to resign. That was her response to that. And what she has said is that the board members who who censured her, who asked her to resign, who reprimanded her — she says that these are the ones who are involved in this public meeting violation that she went to the Attorney General's Office with.

GOLDSTEIN: So where do they go from here if let's say it's a status quo board as much as it can be?

MARIZCO: Assuming that nobody is going to step down or resign from the board, they're going to have to form an entirely new search committee. They're going to have to ask candidates for this chancellor position to step in, reapply, start all over again using taxpayer money — none of this is happening for free — two to reinstate the search for a chancellor. And then they're all going to have to figure out how to work together again. You know, there are certain issues that they need to they need to work on, such as when do we start returning students safely? How do we return them safely to the various community colleges? There are issues with payroll, some of which have still not been addressed. There are issues with some of the sports at various community colleges that also need to be addressed. There's a lot there where they're going to have to work together. That's not happening right now.

GOLDSTEIN: KJZZ's Michel Marizco with the latest on the board of the Maricopa County Community College District, which as a reminder holds KJZZ's license. Michel, thanks as always. Take care.

MARIZCO: Hey, thank you.

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Steve Goldstein was a host at KJZZ from 1997 to 2022.