This post was authored by Mary Dowell
On April 23rd our community college clients received a Legal Advisory from the State Chancellor’s Office which should be of concern to all public school and community college districts. It informed the community college Human Resources Officers about a decision by CalSTRS after an audit of City College of San Francisco (SFCCD). CalSTRS has determined that it will not allow persons in positions such as Director of Human Resources; Chief Financial Officer; Chief Information Technology Officer; Director of Payroll, Director of Building, Grounds, and Maintenance; or Police Chief to be enrolled in STRS. SFCCD had designated these positions as Educational Administrators. CalSTRS concluded that these administrators are not performing “creditable service” as that term is defined in Education Code section 22119.5.
CalSTRS took action to terminate CalSTRS employment benefits for current and retired employees of SFCCD who it determined should not have been enrolled, including persons who had occupied the positions listed above. The consequences included removal of employees and retirees from the system, a demand for collection of all “overpayments” from each member, former member, or beneficiaries, and adjustment to all impacted members’ creditable compensation. In effect, both the retirees and the still-employed administrators are to be excluded from the system.
SFCCD has administratively appealed this action and the affected retirees have sued CalSTRS. However, CalSTRS has given no indication that it will change its position. Although this decision only applies to SFCCD at this point, all community college and school districts employing academic administrators (or certificated administrators for K-12 districts) in positions not directly involved in instruction should be aware of this development.
CalSTRS has also stated that it does not believe persons in other positions which are commonly designated as educational administrators are performing creditable service, and that they would be at risk for similar exclusion from the retirement system. These include: Legal Counsel, Vice Chancellor Research and Policy, Director of Administrative Services, Vice Chancellor Governmental Relations, and others. It appears that almost any administrative position in Administrative Services or Human Resources which is designated as an educational administrator or as a certificated administrator would be at risk.
If there are positions in your district which have been designated as educational administrator or certificated administrator in the areas of human resources, business, governmental relations, legal counsel, or institutional research, you should consult with counsel to review how these positions have been utilized and how this case might affect them. We believe there may be many such positions. It will be crucial to watch how the legal proceedings involving SFCCD unfold, but other solutions should be discussed as well.