October 09, 2023

Exceptions Swallow the Role of New Ombuds at San Mateo County Community College

The community college system in California recently unveiled its Office of the Ombuds, which will serve nearly 50,000 stakeholders across three campuses. O'KenZoe Brian J. Selassie was appointed Chief Diversity Officer and Ombuds. The position clearly violates the IOA standards of practice due to the inherent conflicts of duty. Nonetheless, the website asserts that the SMCCC Ombuds, "utilizes the [IOA Code] to inform aspects of its approach to ombuds work and operation where possible." (Emphasis added.)

This very loose reading of IOA's standards leads to some huge exceptions to the Ombuds' role: "All interactions with the Ombuds Office are strictly confidential except cases where there is consent by complainant; imminent harm to the complainant, others or District/Colleges; or a legal concern." (SMCCC Ombuds; LinkedIn.)


  1. It is honestly hard to imagine the kind of matters someone might be willing to bring to this Ombuds-in-name-only. Why did the District even bother? Maybe IOA should sue for defamation and false light.

    If only someone had emailed the Board Chair when the job was posted to warn her this was poorly conceived and offer to help. Wait... I did do that and so did others!

  2. IOA needs a trademarkable name that can be withheld from deficient organizations. Also, IOA's aversion to calling out standards-deficicent programs is contributing to a downward spiral of standards. The profession would be better off with fewer real ombuds programs than welcoming/tolerating ombuds-in-name-only programs.

  3. "A legal concern" as an exemption? What isn't a legal concern?

  4. "Inform aspects"??????? This would be funny were it not so pathetically bad.