How the Personnel Commission Came to be...

A Little History

Like many other merit systems throughout the United States, the Personnel Commission of the Los Angeles Community College District had its roots in the excesses of political patronage. The year was 1933: an election year for the Los Angeles Unified School District. Four candidates, who were known during and after their campaign as the “Four Horsemen”, were running for seats on the Board of Education. Rumor had it that these four candidates had promised jobs to many people in exchange for their political support. In an open letter to employees of the District, these candidates made the following promise:

“We wish to assure you that if we are elected to membership on the Board of Education, we intend to give you fair and just treatment. We expect to make only such changes as we find necessary in order to secure honest and efficient service. We do not believe in the ‘spoils system’. We are opposed to all forms of political coercion in the schools; we have not promised jobs or promotions to anyone.”

The following are two accounts of events following the election of the Four Horsemen.

“Immediately upon their installation in office, there were wholesale dismissals among non-certificated employees, chiefly among the custodians… Estimates on the number dismissed vary from five hundred to eighteen hundred.”

“When these Board members took office, they began to make good on their campaign promises. We had some 700 people fired out of the Business Division in 1933. The halls were filled and the sidewalks were filled. They had to have traffic policemen to control all the people who were there demanding jobs that had been promised to them. For days, strangers wandered through the offices … I came a year after that and the employees by that time had decided that they needed and would work toward obtaining a merit system.”

Major Functions and Responsibilities of the Personnel Commission

Establish and maintain an up-to-date job classification plan by allocating all positions within the classified service to job classes within this plan and prepare class descriptions which include minimum educational and work experience requirements for classified positions.

Conduct and participate in community salary surveys to set salary rates which are based upon the principle of “like pay for like service.” The Personnel Commission recommends appropriate salary schedules or rates for all job classifications to the Board of Trustees and allocates each class in the Classified Service to the proper schedule or rate.

Determine the appropriate fields of competition, develop and administer Merit System examinations, and establish eligibility lists. Consideration is given to equal employment opportunity, the welfare of the service, development of a career service, and promotion of employee morale.

Develop and enforce those rules and regulations required by action of the California State Legislature affecting the Merit System provisions of the Education Code, as well as others necessary to ensure the efficiency of the classified service and the selection and retention of employees on the basis of merit and fitness.

Certify that employees have been examined in accordance with competitive procedures, assigned in accordance with the rules of the Personnel Commission, and are being paid the proper rate. Salary warrants may not be drawn without this certification.

Conduct hearings of appeal from disciplinary actions, such as demotions, suspensions, and dismissals, and conduct investigations into Merit System matters as prescribed by the Education Code. The findings of the Personnel Commission are binding on the Board of Trustees.

Benefits of the Merit System and Personnel Commission

  • Protection against arbitrary action, personal favoritism, and political coercion.
  • The Guarantee of a job classification and salary structure based on sound professional standards, prevailing community practices, legal requirements, and equity.
  • The Right to request a study of the classification of your position.
  • The Assurance that the salary of your position will be periodically checked against what other employers in the labor market are paying for the same job.
  • The Right to apply and compete for promotional opportunities on a level playing field.
  • The Right to be interviewed and considered for positions.
  • The Right to an appeal hearing before an independent hearing officer following disciplinary action by the District.
  • The Assurance that employment transactions are being audited for compliance with law and contract provisions.
  • The Right to request an investigation into issues related to your employment that fall under the jurisdiction of the Personnel Commission.
  • Additional Protection against the contracting out of your job.
  • The Guarantee of an open forum for the discussion of issues within the purview of the Personnel Commission and of concern to classified employees.
  • Voice for the interests of classified employees in arenas not open to employee and union representatives.


Personnel Commission Vision

We recognize that perfection does not exist and that there are constant opportunities for improvement. We remain committed to continual advancement and the knowledge that we cannot afford to remain inert.

  • Model Employer
    • The Personnel Commission should serve as an example within the Los Angeles Community College District.
  • Rapid Response
    • We should establish the ability and reputation for prompt response to situations and requests.
  • Sense of Urgency
    • Staff should be trained to undertake commitments with the attitude that delay is not acceptable.
  • Sense of Purpose
    • Staff should understand that ours is not a routine service function but, rather, a purposeful mission.
  • All Weather Commitment
    • We should deliver on our promises and commitments regardless of obstacles.
  • Customer Friendly
    • Greater sensitivity to the views and needs of people who are dependent upon our services.
  • Effective Integration
    • Our functions should dovetail with the total District fabric.
  • Forward-Looking & Innovative
    • Our services, processes, and responses should be creative and state of the art.
  • Proactive & Preventative
    • Our services and timing should anticipate developments and foreclose negative occurrences before they happen.
  • Challenging & Satisfying Work
    • Our duties and mission should be structured in a manner that is challenging, satisfying, and fulfilling to our staff members.
  • Ownership
    • Our mission and activities should promote price and “buy in” by our staff members in the work that we do.
  • Paperless Systems
    • Our operations should embrace new technologies and state of the art processes ahead of other entities.
  • Informed Commissioners
    • Communications between staff and Commissioners should preclude surprises and incorporate input/feedback.
  • Positive Image
    • Staff activities should be mindful of the image of the Commission and foster promoting a positive reputation.