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Students Call for Resignation of Community College Official

Education: Irvine Valley, Saddleback campus leaders say Trustee Steven Frogue's actions hurt schools' integrity.

September 12, 1997|MIMI KO CRUZ | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

The student governments of Irvine Valley and Saddleback colleges Thursday called for the immediate resignation of South Orange County Community College District board President Steven J. Frogue.

Frogue was to teach a now-canceled course on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, which was to include a guest speaker who contends the Holocaust is exaggerated and that agents for the Israeli government killed Kennedy. The board last month voted 4 to 3 to approve the course.

"The students are shocked and extremely distraught about the decision of our board to offer a class that negatively impacts the integrity of this academic institution," said Barbara Raphael, president of the Associated Students at Irvine Valley College.

Irvine's student body government Thursday passed a resolution that read in part: "The best interests of the South Orange County Community College District would be served by the immediate resignation of Steven J. Frogue as president and as a member of the Board of Trustees."

Saddleback's Associated Students passed a similar resolution.

Also Thursday, the Orange County Human Relations Commission decided to send a letter to the Board of Trustees saying that Frogue's actions in arranging for the seminar's speakers were "inappropriate and abhorrent."

Frogue, who told the commission that he is an expert on the Kennedy assassination, said, "The truth is, this course isn't claiming conspiracy; it's explaining why the Warren Commission is not believed. I was prepared to offer an excellent course."

Instead, he said, "I've had my name dragged through the mud."

A group of faculty members from both campuses and community activists also have formed a group to campaign for Frogue's recall. Roy Bauer, an Irvine Valley College philosophy professor and an organizer of Recall Unethical Leadership in Education (RULE), said, "We are very, very passionate and feel very strongly that we need to pursue this recall. We want to restore decency to our district."

Bauer said several people have pledged tens of thousands of dollars for the recall campaign.

A petition outlining RULE's reasons for the recall will be presented to Frogue at Monday's board meeting. The two college resolutions also will be presented then. A signature-gathering campaign is then planned.

One of Frogue's colleagues on the Board of Trustees, Marcia Milchiker, said she will ask the board to vote to have Frogue step down from his presidency at a meeting Oct. 20.

"He has used his position as a bully pulpit for spreading hatred and bigotry in our community," Milchiker said at the Human Relations Commission meeting. "Even our students have been roused to political activism by this outrageous, egregious action."

Frogue said he has never been an anti-Semite, as some have accused.

Frogue, a high school history teacher, has said in the past that the Anti-Defamation League was involved in the Kennedy assassination.

When he began to criticize the league Thursday night, Human Relations commissioners ordered him to sit down.

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