On August 9th, 2021 SchoolsFirst CEO, Bill Cheney and President Greg Marchant responded to the RSCCD Board of Trustees regarding their July 12, 2021 request for the SchoolsFirst board to diversify and replace six current board members, none of whom are persons of color.
The seven diverse elected RSCCD trustees and student trustee expect their community credit union to embody the values and principles that they practice as elected officials. The RSCCD trustees represent the demographics of the communities the college district serves and believe the SchoolsFirst board should represent the communities the state’s largest credit union serves.
Cheney and Marchant’s response is filled with excuses and glib statements that are either outright false or make no sense related to the request by the eight RSCCD trustees. They begin by claiming the current 13 voting SchoolsFirst board members as having been “…nominated and voted on by our Membership for their experience”.
This is a bold-faced lie and Cheney and Marchant know better. None of the 13 members ever faced an election. Each was nominated by their fellow SchoolsFirst board members. In fact, there has never been an election for a SchoolsFirst board seat in a generation.
Citing “strict government regulation” as a reason why the current board members must be retained is also untrue. The “strict government” regulation can be found in National Credit Union Administration (NCUA) Regulation 701.4 – Duties of Federal Credit Union Boards of Directors adopted on July 27, 2011
At a minimum, a director should be able to examine the credit union’s balance sheet, income statement and be able to answer the following questions:
- What does this line item mean?
- Why is it important to the credit union?
- Is the value of the line item changing over time? If so, what does that change (either positive or negative) mean?
- Is the change important to the credit union?
Out of the 1.2 million SchoolsFirst members, there certainly should be a half-dozen persons of color who can meet these requirements. SchoolsFirst could likely find professionals whose backgrounds would exceed those of the current members who mostly serve or have served in public education as teachers and administrators.
Cheney and Marchant conclude their letter explaining that replacing six board members would raise serious concerns with regulators. The NCUA believes in the democratic process and provides federal credit unions with bylaw guidelines on how to conduct elections. If six board members are replaced in a duly held election and the new members meet the requirements outlined in Regulation 701.4, the concerns would only be Mr. Cheney’s to be used as a continued excuse.
Mr. Cheney has provided multiple excuses why the SchoolsFirst board members cannot be replaced. He has attempted to rationalize the board’s diversity by claiming there are women serving; he has made a series of hollow promises for over a year that there will be changes and now in the August 9th letter he avoids the issue altogether with a series of irrelevant statements including boasting of his pride in the board and how it has handled economic cycles.
While SchoolsFirst may be doing well financially, it is failing to be an example of leadership for our community.
It has become evidently clear the SchoolsFirst’s board has no intention to diversify while Mr. Cheney continues to act as their enabler.
Dr. Barry Resnick is a professor of counseling in the Rancho Santiago CCD and a 2020 Semi-Finalist for OC Teacher of the Year. He has resided with his family in the city of Orange for 34 years and just completed his 41st year in the Rancho Santiago CCD.
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