Lugo returns to prior job

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732 days after Silvia Lugo was served with a layoff notice she tearfully thanked the governing board for restoring her position. Lugo was one of five staff members laid off by former superintendant Raj K. Chopra in April 2009.

Lugo’s job as Performing Arts Coordinator was to manage campus arts events, open houses and events at satellite campuses, art gallery openings and more than 30 performing arts productions.

Performing Arts Chair Dr. Jeff Nevin said keeping the arts program running smoothly has been difficult without Lugo.

“Last year the public relations department of our campus finally put together a full-year calendar for us,” said Nevin. “But I realized that the Mariachi concert on May 12, while on the yearly calendar, is not on the campus website.”

Nevin began getting calls about the Mariachi performance because visitors could not find the allotted space on the website to purchase tickets.

“This just goes to prove how important it is for us to have someone who is taking care of managing and promoting our events,” he said.

Lugo spoke with the governing board several times before and after she was laid off.

“I have been responsible for all the public relations and marketing for the performing and visual arts in the School of Arts and Communication,” she said. “It was hard to believe that the district would eliminate a position that is essential to the success of the co-curricular programs in the arts.”

Program Review Coordinator Linda Hensley described Lugo as courageous and said Lugo was never complacent about her work.

“It was so sad when she had to clean out her office,” said Hensley. “I took a vase from her office and said ‘You’ll be back, and when you’re back we’ll put flowers in it’.”

Lugo said she watched for two years as the school hired people for new, existing and replacement positions.

“I felt very disappointed and disheartened to see that the district had the money to pay for many other positions, but not to reinstate my position,” she said.

Encouraged by her colleagues to hang on, Lugo said she kept fighting for her old job.  She said the union filed an unfair labor practice complaint against the district, and students and faculty reinforced her determination.

“Since my last day of work on June 15, 2009, I have been working with the union to find a way to get my job back,” said Lugo. “I would call it a series of battles instead of a fight. But yes, I had to stay on top of this situation. I was determined to see this through.”

Lugo said it was not an easy period.

“Financially it was devastating for me and my family,” she said. “But we managed to survive.”

Officially reinstated April 2011, Lugo will resume her old job on June 1.

“We’re incredibly pleased to have Silvia back as our Performing Arts Coordinator,” said Nevin.

After two years, Lugo’s vase has flowers again.

 

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