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Santa Monica College president wants to delay two-tier tuition plan

April 6, 2012 | 11:44 am

Nnaemeka Alozie gets hosed off after being pepper-sprayed outside the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday.

This post has been updated. See the note below.

Facing pressure from students and the state's community colleges chancellor, Santa Monica College President Chui L. Tsang on Friday proposed that the school postpone a controversial two-tier education plan.

The motion was made to the Board of Trustees at a hastily called special meeting two days after system Chancellor Jack Scott voiced reservations about the plan and its legality.

[Updated at 2:08 p.m., April 6: The board later voted unanimously to postpone implementation of the plan, to cancel the pilot program scheduled for this summer and to seek advice from the campus community on future efforts to expand access.]

The chancellor has asked the state attorney general for an opinion.

Under the plan, which was scheduled to be implemented this summer, a nonprofit foundation would have offered high-demand core classes such as English, math and history at full cost of about $180 per unit, along with similar state-funded classes set 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.

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 the plan would hurt low-income students who cannot afford the added costs and would lead to the privatizing of public education.

Scott said he shared the same concerns. 

Tsang's motion to postpone the program drew applause from a crowd of about 250 students, faculty and staff.

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

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

Trustees are expected to vote on the motion after public comment.


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-- Carla Rivera in Santa Monica

Photo: Nnaemeka Alozie gets hosed off after being doused with pepper sprayed outside the Santa Monica College Board of Trustees meeting Tuesday. Credit: Michael Yanow