A nonprofit organization run by staff at Rancho Santiago Community College District has apparently failed to file state and federal tax returns for at least a decade.

The nonprofit, known as the International Consortium for Educational and Economic Development (ICEED), was formed in the early 1990s in anticipation of the North American Free Trade Agreement, according to this 1992 article in the Los Angeles Times. Its member colleges hail from the U.S., Canada and Mexico.

The organization holds annual conferences for its member colleges and, according to a statement from college district spokesman George Urch, brings together leaders from the colleges to look at “internationalizing of curriculum, potential faculty and student exchanges, and innovative projects related to international education and development.”

At some point over the years, operations of the nonprofit were transferred from a community college in Florida to Rancho Santiago staff. Enrique Perez, the district’s assistant vice chancellor of educational services, is the nonprofit’s executive director, and district Chancellor Raul Rodriguez sits on the nonprofit’s board as the U.S. representative. The district’s headquarters is listed as its contact address.

ICEED’s annual federal tax-exempt filings, known as form 990s, are nowhere to be found. District staff hasn’t been able to produce any for public inspection, as required under IRS regulations. And it doesn’t show up in online depots like GuideStar and citizenaudit.org, which claims to have the filings for “every charity in America.”

In 2004, the state Franchise Tax Board suspended ICEED’s articles of incorporation for failing to file tax returns, according to an email from Franchise Tax Board spokeswoman Denise Azimi. The organization has been suspended ever since.

In another apparent mix-up, the state tax authority has ICEED listed as a for-profit corporation, even though its founding documents state that it’s a nonprofit public benefit corporation.

When asked for the most recently filed form 990, Urch responded in a written statement that district staffers have contacted the IRS and Franchise Tax Board to determine whether its paperwork in California was “done accurately and thoroughly” when “coordination was transferred over from Daytona Community College in Florida.”

“If for some reason there was a misunderstanding and it was not, it will be corrected and any additional required paperwork will be provided,” the statement reads.

This revelation about ICEED’s tax filings is the latest in a string of issues at the district, which governs Santa Ana College and Santiago Canyon College, that have come to light this year.

In May, another nonprofit run by district staff, the Rancho Santiago Community College District Foundation, was forced to re-approve a controversial deal to run technical schools in Saudi Arabia when it violated the state’s open meetings law by holding foundation board gatherings behind closed doors.

And in a much more costly mistake, the district constructed the Orange Education Center at a cost of $27 million without having it first reviewed by state architects, which also violated state law, according to a March 14 article in the Orange County Register. An overhaul of the building is going to cost $21 million, the article states.

Barry Resnick — president of the district faculty association and a frequent critic of the administration — said the failure to file tax returns for ICEED fits an “embarrassing” pattern, and pinned accountability on the district’s board of trustees.

“This is just one more embarrassing example of how our District has been managed the past few years,” Resnick said. “It’s unfortunate our elected trustees continue to look the other way as if these problems will simply go away.”

Please contact Adam Elmahrek directly at aelmahrek@voiceofoc.org and follow him on Twitter: @adamelmahrek

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