Ron Galatolo

Ron Galatolo

Former chancellor Ron Galatolo directed San Mateo County Community College District contracts to friends who gave him undisclosed, lavish gifts and also secretly negotiated a contract worth at least $1 million, according to allegations considered by the Board of Trustees as it terminated a relationship with the disgraced administrator last week.

Documents obtained by the Daily Journal detail a litany of alleged contract violations multiple sources confirmed factored into the decision by officials to terminate and rescind an agreement with Galatolo, who is under criminal investigation by the county’s District Attorney’s office.

Galatolo declined to comment publicly on the allegations, citing advice of his attorneys. District spokesman Richard Rojo declined to comment as well.

In 2013, Galatolo exerted undue influence on a district committee charged with picking a contractor for a solar array project at Cañada College which, according to the documents, ultimately resulted in the selection of a company owned by the former chancellor’s friend.

The documents said that company later provided services related to installation of solar panels at Galatolo’s property in Hawaii in 2017 and 2018 and he did not disclose the relationship to the board.

Galatolo also purchased property in Paris with two principals at the company without telling the board, and similarly did not inform trustees he accepted first-class plane tickets to Dubai acquired with use of what to appears to be the mileage account of the highest ranking official at the firm, according to the documents.

“In all events, your close friendship … raises questions of impropriety,” said the documents.

The documents also assert Galatolo arranged a variety of payments to employees without first consulting trustees, misled officials regarding contractor compensation and received work from other district contractors on personal property in Lake Tahoe.

The specific allegations shed more light on a resolution unanimously approved by the board Saturday, Feb. 6, which said Galatolo held secret personal relationships with district vendors who supplied him with various lucrative perks.

“You regularly accepted gifts from district contractors (e.g., tickets) but failed to report their full value on your Form 700 (if you reported them at all), despite signing the form under penalty of perjury,” said the documents.

Form 700 is a statement of economic interest for public officials required by the Fair Political Practices Commission.

Galatolo also obtained an annuity agreement worth as much as $1.2 million that may have been reached without consent of the entire school board, according to the documents.

“The 2015 agreement appears to be signed by the then-board president, but to date we have been unable to find any notice to the public or approval of the board in public or in closed session,” said the documents.

Separate contracts presented by the district showed an annuity plan worth as much as $1.2 million supplementing his baseline salary signed by former board president Patricia Miljanich. But once the deal was signed, Galatolo did not share it with the board in later contract negotiations, according to the new documents.

“We also have not found any evidence that you disclosed this agreement to the board in connection with your subsequent contract negotiations, including the discussions that resulted in the August 2019 agreements,” said the documents.

In a Feb. 6 letter terminating Galatolo’s $467,000 chancellor emeritus contract, officials claimed that full disclosure would have influenced their previous decisions.

“We continue to believe you withheld material information during the course of the negotiation leading up to the college district’s offering the chancellor emeritus position to you. Had the college district been aware of the information you withheld, it would not have entered into the 2019 agreement,” said the letter.

The emeritus position was created for Galatolo when he unceremoniously departed from the district’s top position at the start of the 2019 school year. When the district attorney’s investigation was announced shortly after, he was put on administrative leave.

The letter notifying him of the district’s intent to terminate and rescind the emeritus contract claimed he provided no service, despite being its highest-paid employee.

Recommended for you

(2) comments

Michael B. Reiner, PhD

Typo. Mercury News, San Mateo college district chancellor fired while DA probes alleged unethical behavior, February 12, 2012 - SHOULD READ 2021 - YESTERDAY!

Michael B. Reiner, PhD

Can you square this circle?

Trustee Goodman is quoted, “There’s a sense of completion and an opportunity for closure, certainly,” he said. “But at the same time I don’t want it to be lost that I also believe our board had our fingerprints on this as well for passing that contract to begin with. I believe Ron should’ve been gone before his contract was extended.”  (Mercury News, San Mateo college district chancellor fired while DA probes alleged unethical behavior, February 12, 2012).

In the same article it is stated, "Board Trustee Goodman, who spoke and voted against entering into the contract with Galatolo in 2019, said the firing gives him a sense of closure and the board’s ultimate decision was “a long time coming.”

Really? Goodman was the Board President who signed Galatolo's outrageous contract to reassign him from Chancellor to a bogus job as Chancellor Emeritus with incredible perks. 

Now he states he was against the contract and voted against it in a closed session of the Board. I thought Trustees were NOT to discuss their votes in closed session? This sets a precedent that should be continued, as the public should at least be told "who voted for what" in a Board closed session. I admire his courage.

Hopefully all Trustees who voted against Galatolo's contract, a quid pro quo in the best interest of the Board but not the public, will come forward to declare their innocence (and help the branding of their next political campaign).


Michael B. Reiner, PhD, is a higher education consultant and educational researcher. Previously, he was a professor of psychology and college administrator at City University of New York (CUNY), Miami Dade College, the Riverside Community College District, and the San Mateo County Community College District.  LinkedIn:

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Thank you for visiting the Daily Journal.

Please purchase an Enhanced Subscription to continue reading. To continue, please log in, or sign up for a new account.

We offer one free story view per month. If you register for an account, you will get two additional story views. After those three total views, we ask that you support us with a subscription.

A subscription to our digital content is so much more than just access to our valuable content. It means you’re helping to support a local community institution that has, from its very start, supported the betterment of our society. Thank you very much!