Lookout Update: Judge rules personnel files of former Cabrillo baseball coach will remain private

A section of November's ballot in which Bob Kittle was pitted against Adam Spickler for Cabrillo College trustee
Bob Kittle filed to run for Cabrillo College’s board of trustees against incumbent Adam Spickler but withdrew before November’s election, after ballots had been printed.
(Hillary Ojeda / Lookout Santa Cruz)

The documents detailing why and how Bob Kittle was terminated at Cabrillo College will not be released publicly after a judge ruled to uphold a temporary injunction filed in October. Cabrillo leadership says it has no plans to appeal and supports the judge’s decision.

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A Santa Cruz Superior Court judge upheld a preliminary injunction filed by former Cabrillo College baseball coach Bob Kittle that would keep his personnel files from being released as public records by the school.

The college says it has no plans to appeal the decision, and will send a follow-up brief to the judge expressing agreement.

Cabrillo received a records request from the Good Times after Kittle announced in September he was running for a seat on the college’s board of trustees — the same body that had terminated him months earlier.

The college informed Kittle of its decision to comply with the request based on legal precedent under the California Public Records Act, also noting a situation in 2012 (Marken v. Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District) that had similarities. That led to Kittle filing the preliminary injunction to prevent the reason for his firing from being released.

Judge Timothy Volkmann’s ruling on Jan. 10 upholding the injunction is brief, but it ends by saying, “The court reserves jurisdiction to modify this injunction as the ends of justice may require.”

Kittle said Wednesday he had no comment on the decision.

Cabrillo College President Matthew Wetstein said the school planned to submit a brief to the judge in agreement with upholding the injunction and perhaps even making it permanent.

“We think it’s fine for the judge to rule in the privacy interest in this case,” Wetstein said. “We want to protect, in virtually all cases, the personnel records of our employees. And so therefore, we’d be saying to the judge, we agree with the injunction.”

Bob Kittle was let go as Cabrillo coach in June 2022.
(G.P. Scheppler via Cabrillo College)

Lookout reached out to Kittle as the election approached in November. He had removed himself from the race, and said he wouldn’t accept the job if elected, but ballots had already been mailed so his name remained for voters of Area 4.

Kittle received 2,639 votes. Incumbent Adam Spickler received 11,244 votes — 80% — and retained the position.

Kittle decided to talk openly about what would be found in his personnel file related to his firing as the college’s baseball coach, namely the findings of a third-party investigator relating to violations of campus alcohol and COVID-19 protocols.

He said those activities happened in the fall of 2020 and involved “one occasion where there were beer cans and hard seltzer in a wastepaper basket in the baseball office and of another occasion where I consumed alcoholic beverages with a non-student adult in the baseball office.”

Go here for the full recap of events.

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