LBCCD board could require notification of future job searches by superintendent-president

The Long Beach Community College District Board of Trustees may require Superintendent President Reagan Romali to formally notify them if she searches for other jobs after her pursuit to take over as the head of Miami Dade College dissolved Wednesday.

A number of trustees have said that they were caught off guard at the news that Romali was a finalist for a position at Miami-Dade College in Florida when the story became public June 7. Leaders may now pursue changes to Romali’s recently approved new contract to require her to give notice to the board if she applies for another job in the future.

The board recently extended Romali’s contract for three years and gave her a $50,000 annual bump in compensation to $290,000.

When asked if the board would pursue such a change to her contract, newly elected board president Vivian Malauulu said that the board “could consider it.”

Malauulu said Thursday that she has spoken to Romali and that Romali has reaffirmed her commitment to Long Beach.

“Dr. Romali will continue to serve our students and this community,” Malauulu said. “The college has significantly improved its track record of increasing completion and getting more students of color across the graduation stage under her leadership. Her work at LBCC on behalf of our Justice Scholars and Formerly Incarcerated Students confirms her commitment to those needing a second chance.”

Malauulu was one of those surprised by the news that Romali was pursuing a new job but said that she was not concerned about the board’s ability to work with Romali moving forward.

Former board president Sunny Zia conveyed a similar feeling Thursday, stating that while she was also not aware of the search until it became public that Romali was a finalist, Romali had been sought by the college, not the other way around.

Zia noted the school’s improved graduation rates and Romali’s leadership in bringing back trades courses to the college that had done away with a number of its vocational courses earlier this decade before saying she was excited to have her stay in Long Beach.

“I don’t feel like she doesn’t want to be here,” Zia said. “She’s been fantastic and has been fixing things left and right.”

Romali had made it to a final round of four candidates in an extensive, nationwide search to fill the vacant president position at Miami Dade College in Miami, the country’s largest community college.

She heaped praised on Miami during video interviews with the 17-member search committee selected to fill the vacancy, calling the city her “happy place” and saying that “Miami was in her soul.”

In an email Thursday, Romali said that despite her lauding of Miami during the interview process it doesn’t change the way she feels about Long Beach.

“Yes. I love Miami and the fond memories that I made there,” Romali wrote. “I also love Chicago. And I definitely love Long Beach. I have two kids. Does anyone ever ask how I can love both of them?”

Romali previously served as the head of Chicago’s Truman College before taking the head job at LBCC in March 2017.

She said that deciding to take part in the interview process at Miami Dade was not an easy decision but was made out of a desire to better provide for her two special needs children—not to leave Long Beach.

Landing the job in Miami could have provided Romali with a significant pay increase, even over what the LBCC Board of Trustees just granted her earlier this year. A 2013 report from then Florida Governor Rick Scott’s office showed that Miami Dade College paid the highest total compensation at $630,000 annually.

Eduardo Padron, the retired Miami Dade College president who Romali was seeking to replace, was consistently one of the highest paid state employees in Florida and The Miami Herald reported in April that the search committee was likely to offer a base salary of around $500,000.

Romali said that she was honored to have been part of the interview process at one of the country’s largest educational institutions in the country and that her being sought out by the selection committee should serve as a compliment to the great work that has been completed at LBCC before and after her arrival.

She said she looks forward to continuing to serve the LBCC students.

“For the last two years, I have had the incredible privilege to serve as the Superintendent-President of the Long Beach Community College District and lead a team of the most talented faculty, staff and administration in the California Community College system,” Romali wrote.

“Together we have achieved the largest graduating class in the history of Long Beach City College. We have worked hard to ensure that our students are provided with exceptional educational opportunities and experiences. I saw my recruitment for Miami Dade College as a recognition of the exceptional work that is accomplished here at LBCC.”

Support our journalism.

Hyperlocal news is an essential force in our democracy, but it costs money to keep an organization like this one alive, and we can’t rely on advertiser support alone. That’s why we’re asking readers like you to support our independent, fact-based journalism. We know you like it—that’s why you’re here. Help us keep hyperlocal news alive in Long Beach.

Jason Ruiz covers City Hall and politics for the Long Beach Post.