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Los Angeles Community College District Personnel Commission

Its Inconsistent Practices and Inadequate Policies Adversely Affect District Employees and Job Candidates, Leading to Concerns About the Fairness of Its Decisions

Report Number: 2020-111

Figure 1

The first subheading in the figure is titled composition. The Board consists of seven members elected at large and one student representative selected by the associated student organizations. There is an illustration to represent the Board with seven yellow individuals and one grey individual to demonstrate their seven members and one student representative. The District consists of nine community colleges and district office. The illustration that represents the District is a large yellow building with pillars. The Commission consists of three commissioners and the staff members who support them. The illustration that represents the Commission is three yellow individuals, who represent the Commissioners, and four grey individuals, who represent the commission staff. The next subheading in the figure is titled mission. The Board is responsible for establishing rules and regulations for the government and operation of the community colleges within the District. The District's mission is to foster student success and provide supportive learning environments. The Commission prescribes merit system rules for classified employees and administers the District's merit system. The last subheading in the figure is titled responsibilities. The Board's responsibilities are: adopt the District's final budget; establish salaries and benefits for all District employees; and approve, amend, or reject Commission recommendations related to salaries for classified employees. The District's responsibilities are: hire employees, provide its view on the Commission's budget, monitor the Commission's expenditures, and pay for the Commission's expenses out of its general fund. Lastly, the Commission responsibilities are: authorize merit system examinations, establish eligibility lists, recommend for Board approval salaries for classified employees, decide on requests for reclassifications, approve compensation for out-of-class work, and review and sustain or deny appeals related to certain decisions.

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Figure 2

Figure 2 is a color-coded flowchart that describes the roles the Commission and District both have within the hiring process. Yellow boxes indicate steps the District conducts and blue boxes indicate steps the Commission conducts. The figure is split into four stages: preparing, examining, ranking, and hiring. The first step in the preparing stage, which the District conducts, occurs when a hiring manager notifies a college's personnel office of a vacancy. The personnel office contacts the Commission. If there is not an active eligibility list, the Commission proceeds with a job recruitment and examination.* This asterisk points to a footnote at the bottom of the figure that explains that the Commission sometimes self-initiates job examinations after a reclassification, if commission staff identify unclassified District staff performing classified work, or if the Commission expects vacancies in lower-level positions because of expected promotions. The illustration for the first step is a "we are hiring" sign. The Commission conducts both the remaining two steps in the preparing stage of the hiring process. The second step explains how the assistant director selects an examiner for the examination. Using feedback from hiring managers, the examiner selects existing—or develops new—examination sections. Assistant director or director approve examination content. The illustration for this step is a paper with writing on it and a pen. The next step explains how the examiner publishes a job recruitment announcement for the upcoming examination on the District's website and advertisements in journals and other websites. The illustration for this step is a computer screen with a person talking in a chat bubble.

The next stage is examining, and contains three steps that the Commission conducts. First, the applicants apply to take the examination. This step has an illustration of a man sitting next to his computer with a cup of coffee. The next step occurs when the examiner screens all applicants to determine whether they meet minimum qualifications and disqualifies those who do not. The illustration for this step is an application. Next, the examiner oversees the examination(s) to candidates and selects raters. With the exception of certain written examinations, raters evaluate and score candidates on their examination performance. The accompanying illustration shows a checklist of applicants that passed or did not pass.

The next stage is ranking, which consists of only one step the Commission conducts. In this step the examiner generates an eligibility list ranking candidates on several factors, including their seniority and the scores they received for each examination section. This illustration shows an individual making a list of applicants with checkmarks who passed the examination.

The final stage is hiring, which consists of two steps the District conducts. In the first step, District hiring managers use the eligibility list to select eligible candidates with whom to schedule interviews. This illustration shows a large hand picking an individual from a group of candidates. The final step in the hiring process occurs when the District hiring managers hire candidates based on interviews. The illustration for this step is three individuals standing next to each other with a welcome sign draped above.

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Figure 3

For one job opening, the Commission required applicants to have experience investigating complaints, appeals, and grievances related to equal employment opportunity and related areas. Applicant A, an internal applicant who holds a graduate and bachelor's degree, described experience in investigations of employee-employer relations, acting as coordinator for complaints of alleged discrimination, and investigating sensitive and confidential matters. Applicant A also stated that he or she handled investigative and civil rights compliance matters. Applicant B, an external applicant who holds a bachelor's degree, listed experience with investigating contractor compliance with wage and labor laws, conducting investigations of alleged contractor violations from worker complaints, and investigating and processing labor law complaints, appeals, and grievances. Applicant A had at least 11 years of experience and Applicant B had at least 15 years of experience. Applicant A also had experience with an educational institution, a desired attribute in the minimum qualifications, while Applicant B did not. Although the Commission determined that Applicant B met minimum qualifications, it determined that Applicant A did not, on the basis of the examiner's knowledge of the applicant's job duties from current and past job applications.

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Figure 4

The figure shows a single rater's ratings of seven evaluation factors and overall score for two candidates. The evaluation factors are: training and experience, judgment, supervisory ability, organization and planning skills, computer skills, communication skills, and interpersonal skills. The illustration on this figure shows a single rater silhouette with two arrows pointing to the two candidates he or she scored. Candidate A received six strong ratings and one acceptable rating from this rater and an overall score of 80. However, Candidate B received only four strong ratings and three acceptable ratings, but received an overall score of 82 from the same rater. Further, Candidate A's only acceptable rating was for computer skills and Candidate B also received acceptable for that specific evaluation factor. Therefore, the candidates' overall scores did not align with their ratings on individual evaluation factors. A footnote at the bottom of the figure states that the Commission allows raters to assign their own weights to individual factors and does not require them to base overall scores on the ratings for individual evaluation factors.

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Figure 5

The figure shows a single rater's ratings of seven evaluation factors and overall score for three candidates. The evaluation factors are numbered 1-6 with a seventh factor for overall quality. The illustration on this figure shows a single rater silhouette with three arrows pointing to the three candidates he or she scored. This rater scored Candidate C two strong, four acceptable, and one marginal ratings with an overall score of 75. Candidate D received five acceptable ratings and two marginal ratings and an overall score of 83, which is a higher score than Candidate C. Further, Candidate E received two exceptional, three strong, and two acceptable ratings, but received an overall score of 84, which is only one point higher than Candidate D. A footnote at the bottom of the figure states that the Commission allows raters to assign their own weights to individual factors and does not require them to base overall scores on the ratings for individual evaluation factors.

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Figure 6

This figure is a color-coded graphic of 25 individuals to demonstrate our audit findings related to justification of scores. For 10 candidates, at least one of the raters who scored their examination did not provide any justification for their ratings. These 10 candidates are the color red. For three candidates, all raters provided either minimal or no justification. These three candidates are a bright yellow. For six candidates we reviewed, at least one of the raters who scored their examination provided only minimal justification for the ratings. These six candidates are a light yellow color. The remaining six candidates pictured in the graphic that received adequate justification from raters are the color grey.

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Figure 7

This figure is a flowchart that describes the Commission's process for work out of class claims with an accompanying illustration for each step. The first step in this process is an employee who is required to perform duties inconsistent with those assigned to his or her class. The illustration for this step is a drawing of a person with areas pointing away from every direction. Employees then submit a claim form to their supervisor, who certifies that the duties were assigned and performed. The illustration for this step is a piece of paper with an arrow in the middle pointing down. After approval by the supervisor and college president or division head, commission staff review the information provided by the employee and determine if the duties are at a higher level than the employee's regular class. The two corresponding illustrations are a paper with a thumbs up and several papers with a magnifying class. Then, once the employee has completed the out-of-class work, Commission staff determine the appropriate difference in compensation. The illustration for this step is a calculator and coins. The staff submits a report with recommended compensation to the Commission for approval. The accompanying illustration is an envelope with a paper sticking out. If the Commission approves a payment, the Board of Trustees must authorize the payment and then District payroll issues the payment. The final two illustrations to demonstrate these steps are a paper with a dollar sign and a thumps up and a hand giving out a bag with a dollar sign.

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Figure 8

This figure is a color-coded graphic of a bar chart. Blue lines represent the amount of time the employee spent working out of class, whereas red lines represent the amount of time between end of work and out of class payment. A green check mark represents the Commission's approval and a green dollar sign represents the District paying the employee for the out of class work. In six out of class claims, all but one employee worked out of class for at least four months. It took the Commission between one and seven weeks from receipt of the final claim to process and approve the payment. In five of the six claims, the employee received one payment for the entirety of the time they worked out of class. The District generally issued these payments between one and two months of when the Commission approved the claim, but in one claim, it took four months. In one case, the employee was paid in three installments, two while she was still performing out of class duties, as discussed later in the section.

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Figure 9

Individuals with concerns about Commission activities can make a complaint or appeal examination results, eligibility decisions, and disciplinary actions. Members of the public, including current employees, may make complaints a variety of ways, such as to the Commission, District, Union, or an outside entity, and the entity that receives the complaint is responsible for addressing the issue. For complaints, there is no set requirement or process to follow. Appeals of Commission or District actions are more limited, as the Commission sets specific grounds for making different types of appeals, as well as a time requirement for submitting those appeals. Specifically, examination and eligibility appeals must be made in writing and made within five working days of receipt of exam or eligibility results. Further, these appeals must contain specific grounds, generally based on procedural error, abuse of discretion, unlawful discrimination, or violation of law or Commission rules. Current and potential employees can submit these types of appeals. Disciplinary appeals must be written and employee has 14 days from receipt to file appeal. This type of appeal, which current and former permanent employees can file, must be based on procedural error, protected characteristic, abuse of discretion, or an action taken that was not in accordance with the facts. The examiner, director, or Commission may make the final decision on examination and eligibility appeals, depending on how many levels of appeal the appellant pursues. The Commission makes decisions on appeals of disciplinary actions.

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