DA's Office investigating former community college chancellor


The San Mateo County District Attorney's Office has issued search warrants in connection with Ron Galatolo's tenure as San Mateo County Community College District chancellor. Galatolo recently left the chancellor's post.

District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe would not specify when the search warrants were issued and at what locations because the investigation is ongoing.

"There are allegations of improprieties with the construction and purchasing contracts and allegations of harassment of an employee," Wagstaffe said in an Aug. 29 email. "The warrants and affidavits have been sealed by court order."

The DA's Office has been investigating for a couple of months and "has a long way to go," he said.

On Aug. 12, the district announced that Galatolo would leave his post to become chancellor emeritus and work on a feasibility study to bring a California State University campus to the Peninsula. He is earning the same annual salary that he earned as chancellor: $467,700.

The contract for Galatolo's new position expires in March 2022, and is nonrenewable.

“The opportunity to have a CSU option at Canada College is a once in a life time opportunity for our county,” college district board President Maurice Goodman said in a written statement. “We came to the mutual understanding that in order to give this dream the best opportunity for success, it was going to take the owner of the vision to focus solely on making this monumental goal into a reality. In my mind, there is no doubt that Ron Galatolo is the only person who can lead this effort.”

The Palo Alto Daily Post recently obtained the separation agreement between Galatolo and the district through the California Public Records Act; the agreement said the two parties would craft a “mutually acceptable joint press release.” It also states that district officials would stick to "talking points" when discussing Galatolo's departure.

The agreement prevents the district from suing Galatolo for anything he might have done as chancellor.

The Almanac requested a copy of the document earlier this month; the college district has not yet provided it.

Galatolo's profile on the Redwood City Chamber of Commerce website states that he resides in Menlo Park. Chamber officials could not be reached for comment on when the profile was last updated or to confirm his residence, and Wagstaffe said he is unsure where Galatolo lives.

District officials said in a prepared statement that it is important to avoid speculation or jumping to conclusions, and to allow the DA's Office to conclude the investigation.

"While the College District is unable to comment on a pending investigation, I can say that we are fully cooperating with the District Attorney's office," Goodman said. "The Board of Trustees is committed to full transparency and accountability in the management of the College District. Maintaining the trust of our community, staff, students and many supporters throughout the County and State is one of our highest priorities and we will take any steps necessary to maintain that trust."

Galatolo could not be reached for comment.

Mike Claire, College of San Mateo's president, is serving as acting chancellor.

Galatolo first joined the district as executive vice chancellor in 1999, following 11 years as controller for the Foothill-De Anza Community College District, according to his Redwood City chamber profile. A request to the SMCCCD office for information on when Galatolo was promoted to chancellor went unanswered.

The college district board is scheduled to interview representatives of search firms that could be hired to find a new chancellor at its Sept. 11 meeting.


Sign up for Almanac Express to get news updates. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Or show your support for local journalism by subscribing.

What is democracy worth to you?
Support local journalism.


Like this comment
Posted by Brad
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Sep 10, 2019 at 11:41 am

Hopefully all the criminal activity this chancellor has been covering up for 10
Years will be brought to light finally! So many scared and intimidated employees unable or unwilling to come forward!
Can only trust this DA will do a thorough job and put Galatolo where he belongs!

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 11, 2019 at 11:31 am

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

A $50,000 contribution from the San Mateo County Community College Foundation to the Yes on Measure H Committee was made on 10/9/14 and can be found in their 460 filing for the period 10/1/2014 to 10/18/2014. The Form 497 for that contribution was filed on 10/10/2014'
The Yes on Measure H committee paid $236,343.61 to the SMCCC Foundation. This is contained in their 460 filing for the period 10/1/2015 to 11/30/2015.
The FPPC told me that the Foundation was required to file a Major Donor form with the County. I have been unable to locate such a filing on the County's website. I have requested a copy from SMC Elections.

Who made "tax-exempt" contributions to the SMCCC Foundation prior to the $50,000 campaign contribution?
Did they know that campaign contribution would be made?
Was the District complicit in the scheme?
Did the District's use of TBWB, a firm specializing in one-stop shopping for successful bond measure campaigns, prior to Measure H's placement on the ballot constitute "electioneering"?
Was the "work product" of TBWB, paid for with public funds, passed on to the Yes on Measure H committee which also hired TBWB?

IMHO, the DA should ask for Federal assistance with his investigation, for possible RICO violations.

Like this comment
Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Sep 13, 2019 at 2:29 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

SMDJ today: "Galatolo is placed on leave"

Bring in the Fed's!

Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.


Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Name: *

Select your neighborhood or school community: * Not sure?

Comment: *

Verification code: *
Enter the verification code exactly as shown, using capital and lowercase letters, in the multi-colored box.

*Required Fields

All your news. All in one place. Every day.

Su Hong Palo Alto's last day of business will be Sept. 29
By Elena Kadvany | 13 comments | 4,391 views

Electric Buses: Challenges and Opportunities
By Sherry Listgarten | 22 comments | 2,708 views

Natural Wines?
By Laura Stec | 1 comment | 950 views

Premarital, Women Over 50 Do Get Married
By Chandrama Anderson | 0 comments | 876 views

Stay a part of their day
By Cheryl Bac | 0 comments | 485 views


Register now!

On Friday, October 11, join us at the Palo Alto Baylands for a 5K walk, 5K run, 10K run or half marathon! All proceeds benefit local nonprofits serving children and families.

More Info