By Dennis J. Freeman
COMPTON — When you hit the tab that directs you to the Compton College website, to the left of the corner of the screen the school’s name is firmly entrenched by itself with no other name or entity attached to it.
There’s nothing on the front page that suggests anything related to its former El Camino College Compton Center days.
Royce Esters, president and CEO of the National Association for Equal Justice in America ((NAEJA), wants to keep it that way.
It has been 13 years since Compton College had its accreditation stripped due financial mismanagement. In June, the school conducted its first commencement exercise as Compton College since 2005 when the Torrance-based El Camino Community College District assumed oversight of the college.
On June 7, 2019, the transformation of Compton College operating on its own is expected and widely anticipated.
Esters is leery that the transfer of power might not take place as scheduled due to underground grumblings that there could be a possible delay for another year or two.
That’s why he has galvanized the Compton community, including teachers, faculty and residents for the last couple of months to show up at the Compton Community College District Board of Trustees meetings, so that they can be better informed on what is happening.
Prior to NAEJA’s involvement, Esters said the meetings would be attended by a handful of people. In the last few months. the meetings, including one that just took place June 19, have been conducted with as many as 60 people in attendance.
The purpose of what Esters and NAEJA are doing is to make sure the Compton Community College District does not deviate from Compton College functioning on its own accord.
“As a civil rights group, we’re looking at due process,” Esters said. “We’re putting pressure on the board to be held accountable to the community. We’re keeping the pressure on them. We’re pressuring them to do the right thing.
“If we sit back and do nothing, then they won’t get the college back. You have to hold the (college Board of Trustees) accountable to the community. If we stepped back, they would do what they want to do.”
The next couple of school board meetings are scheduled to take place July 17 and Aug. 21. Esters said that NAEJA has been working with the faculty union to stay abreast of the activities of the Board of Trustees.
Esters met with Compton College President and CEO Keith Curry not too long ago. Curry addressed Esters’ concerns in a statement that was attached to the Board of Trustees’ docket at the June meeting.
Part of what Curry said to Esters through his public letter was that Compton College is in the business of meeting the needs of its students.
“Compton College is a comprehensive community college that intends to continue to offer degree and certificate programs, as well as career and technical programs to meet the needs of our community,” Curry wrote.
That’s not going to be enough to stop Esters and NAEJA from showing up every month until Compton College is officially operating on its own.
“We’re going to be there every month until we get Compton College back,” Esters said. “We’re putting the pressure on them.”