The charges stem from the June 9 ceremony where Kashara Moore, a part-time teacher and counselor, announced the names of the graduates on stage. Moore stumbled upon the name Carmina Barraza, calling “Carina Barajas” instead.
Footage from the graduation shows Moore and Barraza then start talking at the lectern, with parts of their conversation picked up by the microphone.
“Do you want me to say it? We hear Barraza say.
“No,” Moore replies, before leaning towards the microphone to announce the name again.
Barraza is seen reacting to what appears to be some kind of physical contact between her and Moore and can be heard saying, “Excuse me, yeah, don’t do that again.”
LBCC administrator Herlinda Chico then crosses the stage and can be heard saying, “She wants her name called; his name should be called,” before speaking with Moore and Barraza. Moore asks Barraza to say her name again and Barraza can be heard saying “she nudged me” before Chico finally announces Barraza’s name into the microphone.
Moore can be heard saying “sorry about that” before Chico returns to her seat across the stage where she begins to speak to President Superintendent Mike Munoz.
Moore’s colleagues say allegations based on the incident could now lead to his dismissal after working at the college for the past 10 years. Because Moore is part-time, she is considered an at-will employee and is not protected from dismissal in the same way as a full-time professor.
It is unclear who started the disciplinary proceedings against Moore. The college declined to answer questions about her status at the college, including whether she had previous disciplinary issues, who filed the complaint against her, or whether the college intended to terminate her employment.
Stacey Toda, a spokeswoman for the college, said in an email that the college could not comment on personnel matters.
An attempt to contact Barraza for comment failed. Colleagues of Moore, who is president of the part-time faculty union, said she was advised not to speak to the press ahead of any disciplinary hearing by the college.
Colleagues, however, publicly oppose the ongoing discipline. The college’s faculty unions, including the LBCC faculty association, which represents full-time employees, and the part-time faculty union, Certified Hourly Instructors, have both backed Moore.
An online petition started by Annahita Mahdavi West, a friend of Moore’s and a university professor, had nearly 400 signatures as of Thursday. He’s asking the college to reinstate Moore, who has been on paid administrative leave since June and may find out in the coming days whether her employment status will be decided by the board at its next meeting.
“She never denied that there was physical contact, but anyone who accuses Kashara for a second of intentionally wanting to make contact with a student… they’re crazy,” Mahdavi West said.
Mahdavi West said Moore, who was eventually replaced as name reader at the opening ceremony, was “humbled”. Mahdavi West accused Chico and others of yelling at Moore on stage, and she questioned whether it was appropriate for a director to get involved in the situation.
Chico said Thursday that it was never in his nature not to talk. She said she saw the incident unfold when her attention was already fixed on Moore’s side of the stage after several other name mishaps.
“I saw the physical interaction and it made me feel uncomfortable,” Chico said. “I got up to make sure the student was okay as she was visibly upset.”
Chico was limited in her comments because the issue is still an ongoing human resources issue, but she said she believed the college’s investigation was thorough and not based solely on the perspective shown in the video.
Still, many faculty members fear that the infraction, which they consider minor and accidental, could result in a professor being fired. A letter circulating among full-time and part-time faculty members calls the district’s actions to potentially fire Moore, “over a mispronounced name and a false allegation,” shocking.
“If this can happen to this faculty member, it’s very concerning for all of us,” said Suzanne Engelhardt, president of the full-time faculty association.
Engelhardt described Moore as a person of integrity, determined, visionary and procedural. Prior to being hired by the LBCC, Moore served as a social worker with the county Department of Child and Family Services and a counselor for children with disabilities and mental health issues at the Long Beach Unified School District.
At LBCC, Moore helped counsel foster kids who attended college.
On Wednesday, Engelhardt said members of both faculty unions plan to be present and dressed in red in solidarity with Moore at the next board meeting.
“If they get away with it, that’s a lot of power without a lot of evidence,” Engelhardt said.
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