Quick Take:

In a 6-1 vote Monday, with Steve Trujillo as the lone dissent, Cabrillo College trustees registered their disapproval of Trujillo’s Facebook posts and found that the posts violated policy; Trujillo reiterated his defense that the account had been hacked. The formal censure also prohibits Trujillo from serving as an officer of the board for three years.

Cabrillo College’s governing board voted 6-1 during its Monday night meeting to censure trustee Steve Trujillo — with Trujillo as the only opposing vote — after a subcommittee found he was in violation of its code of ethics stemming from offensive social media posts.

By censuring Trujillo, the board showed its disapproval of his posts and found that the posts violated policy. The formal censure also prohibits Trujillo from serving as an officer of the board for three years.

Trujillo reiterated his defense to the board before its vote, saying that he hadn’t written the posts in questions and that his Facebook account had been hacked, as he told Lookout last week.

“First of all, looking at Facebook’s own records as of today, 77% of all Facebook holders have been hacked. I’ve been hacked numerous times,” he said, adding that the posts were re-created to look like they came from him. “They are done by another outside actor.”

The college’s governing board said in September that it received a complaint against Trujillo accusing him of posting profanity on Facebook, including a reference to politicians like Marjorie Taylor Greene and Donald Trump as “f—-rs,” “wh–es,” and “stupid as—-es,” among other epithets.

The two committee members — trustees Rachael Spencer and Martha Vega — tasked with investigating the complaints said that their investigation found that the offensive posts had appeared on Trujillo’s Facebook page. They said that they couldn’t verify Trujillo’s claim that his Facebook account had been hacked.

In their report, they also recommended that the board not censure Trujillo because the applicable policy wasn’t in place until Oct. 2 — after the social media posts were put on his Facebook page.

Cabrillo College trustee Steve Trujillo and his dog, Pepita.
Cabrillo College trustee Steve Trujillo and his dog, Pepita. Credit: Via Steve Trujillo

Despite that, trustee Dan Rothwell said he was struggling to believe Trujillo didn’t write the offensive social media posts and asked why the board wasn’t censuring him. He also emphasized that he firmly believes in freedom of speech, but that the board similarly can state its disapproval.

“We’re not denying you your freedom of speech,” said Rothwell. “It’s just that there is an opportunity for us to say that we really don’t like this. It reflects very badly, I think, on the college.”

Board chair Adam Spickler asked the board’s counsel, Sarah Kaatz, if Trujillo is considered currently to be in violation of the policy, since the posts are still on Trujillo’s Facebook page.

Kaatz said it’s the board’s role to determine if a policy has been violated.

“However, I will say that since the policy changed and they are still there, that’s a valid question for the board to address,” she said.

She added that the committee’s finding was that Trujillo’s conduct would violate the board policy as it is currently written.

The board then voted 6-1 to censure him, with Trujillo as the only opposing vote.

Following the vote, Trujillo, whose term ends in 2024, said he plans to run for reelection.

“It’s been a very interesting evening, and it’s always nice to be ganged up on by fellow board members and a few people in the audience,” said Trujillo. “Nonetheless, I have every intention of running for reelection and winning just to spite you all.”

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