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Santa Monica College trustees postpone two-tier tuition plan

Students from Santa Monica College march to demand an end to the two-tier tuition program
The Santa Monica College Board of Trustees voted unanimously Friday to postpone implementation of a controversial two-tier tuition plan.

The action came during a hastily called meeting two days after community colleges system Chancellor Jack Scott voiced reservations about the proposal's legality.

Under the plan, which was scheduled as a pilot program this summer, a nonprofit foundation would have offered high-demand core classes such as English, math and history at the full cost of about $180 per unit. Similar state-funded classes would be offered at $46 per unit.

College officials said the plan was a response to decreasing state funds that have forced thousands of classes to be cut.

Before the board announced its decision, college President Chui L. Tsang said he supported putting the plan on hold. The trustees also vowed Friday to seek advice from the campus community on future efforts to expand access to classes.

The dual-price plan, believed to be the first of its kind in the nation, would allow more students to enroll in classes they need in order to transfer and graduate, college officials said.

But students argued that the plan would hurt low-income students who could not afford the added costs and would lead to the privatizing of public education.

Scott said he shared those concerns.

The meeting drew a heavy police presence after a board session Tuesday in which police used pepper spray to disperse protesters.

Tsang announced Friday that campus police were conducting an internal investigation; he has also appointed an independent panel of faculty, students and staff to review the police response.

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-- Carla Rivera in Santa Monica

Photo: Students from Santa Monica College march to demand an end to the two-tier tuition program. Credit: Barbara Davidson / Los Angeles Times

 
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