LONG BEACH, Calif. (CNS) -- The Board of Trustees of the Long Beach-based California State University system held a closed-door meeting Thursday to discuss policies related to sexual harassment, following questions about how CSU Chancellor Joseph Castro handled complaints against an administrator while he was president of Fresno State University.
Board Chair Lillian Kimbell called the meeting Feb. 4, one day after USA Today published a lengthy report questioning a 2020 settlement agreement Castro helped broker with then-Fresno State Vice President of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management Frank Lamas.
No statement was released immediately after Thursday's meeting.
According to the USA Today report, as many as a dozen harassment complaints were made against Lamas over a six-year period, including allegations that he stared at women's breasts, touched women inappropriately, made sexist remarks and would berate and retaliate against employees.
Despite the allegations, no action was taken against him until a 2019 complaint that Lamas had allegedly offered to promote a female employee in return for sexual favors, the paper reported.
That complaint prompted a university investigation that found the allegation to be credible. And it led to the 2020 settlement agreement, in which Lamas received a $260,000 payment and left the university with a glowing letter of reference from Castro, according to the report.
The report has prompted several state legislators to request an independent investigation into the handling of the case. Sen. Connie Leyva, D-Chino, said if a probe corroborates the details of Lamas' case, Castro should resign as chancellor.
Such an investigation was expected to be a topic during today's closed-door CSU Board of Trustees meeting.
More than 200 Cal State Long Beach faculty and staff have signed a petition calling for Castro to step down.
Kimbell said in a statement following the USA Today report that she planned to ask the board "in the coming days'' to support an independent probe, "as I know it will help us improve practices and policies for the future.''
The agenda for the meeting said only that the board will be discussing "executive personnel matters.'' CSU spokesman Mike Uhlenkamp told City News Service the meeting was called "to review CSU's policies related to harassment,'' referencing Kimbell's statement about requesting an investigation into the Lamas matter.
Castro has also said he supports an outside investigation.
"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,'' Castro said in a statement. "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.''