SACRAMENTO—On Wednesday, the Glendale Community College Armenian Genocide Commemoration Bill, SB 568, authored by State Senator Anthony J. Portantino (D–La Cañada Flintridge), was signed by Governor Gavin Newsom.
Prior to the passage of SB 568, GCC would have had to forfeit nearly $500,000 if it were to close on April 24 to commemorate the Armenian Genocide. Unlike the K through 12 Education Code, which gave the GUSD the ability to properly respect and close on April 24, Community Colleges had no such authority prior to today. This situation created an emotional and practical problem for many Glendale families where one child attended GCC and another attended a school which closed. It also created a significant financial difficulty for GCC in order to properly respect such an important and solemn day for many of the school families and the greater GCC community. To rectify the situation, GCC Board Members requested legislative help from Senator Portantino. As a long-time friend and supporter of the college and the Armenian American Community, Senator Portantino respectfully took up the cause. Today’s action is the final appropriate result!
“Two years ago, I was honored to have been asked by GCC Board members to help offset the cost of closing on April 24th. Today, I am very proud to have sent a bill to the Governor to help our Armenian Community, greater community, the faculty, administrators, and students of GCC solemnly and appropriately commemorate the Armenian Genocide without unnecessary financial pressure. I am grateful to Governor Newsom, who continues to support and recognize the importance of the Armenian American Community in California, for his signature, sensitivity and understanding of this situation,” commented Senator Portantino.
Senator Portantino, who has a long and positive relationship with the Armenian American and Glendale Community College community, negotiated directly with the Community College Chancellor’s Office to bring an amenable solution to this issue. The bill received bipartisan support in the Senate and the Assembly. The signing of SB 568 is the culmination of those discussions and actions.
“Glendale Community College commends Senator Portantino for his leadership and the Legislature and Governor Newsom for their support in enactment of this important law. GCC will use this legal day of remembrance, and other opportunities throughout the year, to educate our students and communities about the Armenian Genocide to assure such atrocities never happen again,” said Dr. David Viar, Superintendent/President of GCC.
“On behalf of the Board of Trustees of Glendale Community College, I thank Senator Portantino’s tireless effort on behalf of our students. We are extremely grateful that the Senator championed this issue and enabled us to commemorate the Armenian Genocide by closing our campuses without incurring a financial penalty,” added Board of Trustees President Dr. Vahé Peroomian.
GCC President Dr. David Viar and Executive Vice President Dr. Anthony Culpepper travelled to Sacramento over the last year to offer testimony in support of SB 568. In addition to Chairing the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Portantino also Chairs the Senate Select Committee on California, Armenia & Artsakh Trade, Art, Cultural and Economic Exchange. He recently helped facilitate the formal Memorandum of Understanding between California and the Republic of Armenia, which included the establishment of a California Trade Desk in Yerevan. He was in New York with Governor Newsom, Prime Minister Pashinyan, and High Commissioner Zareh Sinanyan for the historic MOU signing event.
“It is such good karma that I was sitting in Yerevan when I received the news from the Governor’s office that SB 568 was signed. Clearly, the benefits of SB 568 go far beyond financial. When GCC closes on April 24th it educates many non-Armenians about the historical significance of April 24th and the horror of the first Genocide of the 20th Century,” concluded Senator Portantino.