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Indybay Feature

Corrupt North Hollywood Neighborhood Council Rep Turned Blind Eye To College Fraud

by Anonymous
Neighborhood Councils are intended to provide input and oversight regarding problems in the community; but new emails show that Jo Ann Rivas may have been on the take regarding problems at Los Angeles Valley College serving the North Hollywood/Valley Glen/ Valley Village and Van Nuys neighborhoods.
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On May 13, 2023, Controversial NoHo Neighborhood Rep Named In Racketeering Scheme at Los Angeles College hit the wire. This was followed a few days later by North Hollywood Neighborhood Council Rep Censors IndyBay! On May 15, 2023 after the original story appeared to disappear from Google News Feed for a time.

New documents show however that Jo Ann Rivas, current North Hollywood Neighborhood Council Rep At-Large for District 2, was well aware of the Accreditation Violations going on at Los Angeles Valley College’s Media Arts Department, including before the Valley Academic and Cultural Center was approved by the Board of Trustees months later.

Rivas can now be identified as LAVC Media Arts Student Narrative 2 (April 30, 2016), published May 5, 2023 under 'Dozen LAVC Cinema Student Narratives challenges Erika Endrijonas's LACCD success story.' Rivas's narrative is also one of the later ones collected, demonstrating Rivas was fully aware of the MANY other student narratives describing their

They also show that Rivas attended the 2016 LAVC Media Arts Department Advisory Meeting as a rep of the North Hollywood Los Angeles Police Department. Student 1 was also invited to attend by Grant Director Dan Watanabe, provided Student 1 did not raise issues. The emails also mention Watanabe wanting to have a conference with Rivas before hand about how the meeting would be run.

Transparent California records show that Rivas received financial payment for a Professional Mixers with students where she pretended to be a Casting Director. This payment may have also covered Rivas’s silence at the 2016 Media Arts Advisory Meeting.

No further record of Rivas voicing concerns about the Department appears after this. But by the time that Rivas was appointed to the Los Angeles Valley College Citizen’s Building Oversight Committee, Rivas had already clearly articulated she was aware that the Department was not graduating students in a timely manner and that the training advertised was not industry standard.

As a disabled student Rivas's seeking a certificate in Post-Production made perfect sense. What doesn't make sense is that Rivas clearly has had no problem serving in positions of public trust, being well aware that multiple issues were harming both low-income and disabled students (like herself) and did nothing about it beyond writing a single email.

From all official records Rivas looked the other way at the Media Arts Advisory Meetings, just as she looked the other way during the $20-million-dollar racketeering scheme involving the Valley Academic and Cultural Center. Something that was apparently made possible by her membership on the North Hollywood Neighborhood Council.
§Email from Jo Ann Rivas
by Anonymous
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To Whom it May Concern,

It's taking me three years to get my certificate in Post Production because of class scheduling conflicts and classes not being offered on a regular basis. In Fall 15, the only class that I could take towards my major, was Photoshop. I ended up taking three Broadcasting courses just so I could keep my full time status. Had sound, editing and after effects been offered last semester, I would have my certificate in hand and happily seeking employment.

I figured for sure I will graduate in Spring 16. The three classes I needed were offered, but sound and after effects were offered on the same night. Really? There's five days a week that classes are offered and two classes that post production students need are offered on the same night? Why not one in the day and one at night at least? I ended up taking sound and editing and photography as a filler.

I need one more class and none of the classes that would fulfill my certificate are being offered in the summer or fall 16. I will have to wait until Spring 17 to hopefully get the class that I need.

We keep hearing that the school wants us to hurry up and graduate and either transfer or find employment. I would love to do either. When I signed up to get my certificate, I wasn't expecting a three year commitment to complete 36 credits. It should have taken me three semesters, not three years.

I love the program and professors, but I hate the lack of consideration for our expected graduation dates. I also don't appreciate that we are learning outdated programs. Final Cut Pro 7 is not the industry standard. I'd rather learn Premiere. We should have access to the latest, most updated software on the market. How can I consider myself an editor when I have never had access to Final Cut Pro X. I've had access to Premiere, only because I have it on my personal computer. imovie is not industry standard either. It's almost an insult to train us on it. We need updated equipment in numerous areas. We should be state of the art.

Thank you for your consideration of these very important issues.

Jo Ann Rivas
§Email from Dan Watanabe to Student 1
by Anonymous
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On May 12, 2016, at 8:14 AM, Dan Watanabe (Valley College) wrote:

Your paperwork is in district. I will follow up with the others and let them know what is happening. In the mean time, I have sent you the following on FB as it took me a moment to find this email! Will have other work over the summer if you are intereseted.

REDACTED -- I am reaching out to you for a couple of reasons... one is that I have heard through the grape vine that there is some dissatisfaction with what is going on in the media arts department, especially regarding the way schedules are being set. As you may know, tomorrow is our advisory meeting, and I would like to invite you as a student representative. However, before that, I would like to brief you on the HOW and the WHY certain things are happening, so you may be able to judge them in terms of the actual context not only campus wide, but district, region and state. It may come as a surprise to some of the students, but Eric, laurie and Arantxa are doing their very best to make the department work within the context of limited funds and -- more problematic -- limited units, which is the root cause. However, there is plenty being done on the state level and I think you will find the participation interesting. But it will not be a time for a free for all which is why I would very much like to meet with you and maybe one other rep beforehand so you will know what we are all dealing with. In the mean time, Jo Ann Rivas is going to be there as a representative of the police district since she represents our general area.

Sincerely
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