California · Education · Fresno

Lawmakers, CSU board eye probes into Castro’s handling of harassment complaints

Following an explosive report claiming California State University Chancellor, and former Fresno State President, Joe Castro mishandled sexual harassment complaints leveled at a top member of his Fresno State cabinet, California lawmakers and CSU trustees are eyeing probes into his work.

Friday, California State University Board of Trustees Chair Lillian Kimbell said she would be requesting approval from the board to launch an independent probe into Castro’s handling of sex harassment claims against former Fresno State Vice President of Student Affairs Frank Lamas.

Kimbell’s announcement followed back-to-back statements from the chairs of California’s legislative Education Committees.

Sen. Connie Leyva (D–Chino) said that she was “extremely troubled” by a Gannett report detailing Castro’s handling of multiple harassment complaints against Lamas and that the claims were “shocking.”

Leyva chairs the Senate Education Committee.

Separately, Asm. Jose Medina (D–Riverside) echoed the sentiments and called for an immediate and thorough investigation of Castro’s work.

In her statement, Leyva said that should an independent investigation conclude Castro’s handling of reported incidents tracks with the allegations made in the media report, he should resign.

“If the information in the story is corroborated through an outside investigation,” Leyva’s statement about Castro read, “it would be evident that his ongoing behavior and favoritism further endangered the safety and well-being of countless students and others, possibly causing Title IX violations by the university.”

Leyva, however, isn’t interested in solely probing the Lamas affair.

In her statement, she said she wanted to convene a separate hearing of her panel to “further uncover what happened under Chancellor Castro’s leadership while at Fresno State.”

Castro welcomed the investigations in a joint statement with Kimbell.

“I welcome an independent investigation,” Castro said via statement on Friday. “While I followed CSU policy and took the steps to ensure this individual could never work on a CSU campus, I recognize that certain aspects of the process should have been handled better – this is especially true of the hurt caused by my communications to the community during that time.”

“My expectation is that an independent investigation will not only help me in my growth as a leader, but also strengthen the work of the entire Cal State system.”

Reid Stone is a contributing reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun.