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Trade-Tech in Turmoil Over Changes

Education: College students protest transfer of dean and a plan to extend class schedule to five days a week instead of four.

April 04, 2001|JILL LEOVY | TIMES STAFF WRITER

For the third time in about a year, a Los Angeles community college campus has erupted in controversy because a president sought to reassign a popular administrator.

The trouble at Trade-Technical College started when a group of students and faculty, many in Trade-Tech's fashion programs, raised concerns about the transfer of Dean Sharon Tate and plans for schedule changes at the college.

Tate's transfer helped trigger a student demonstration last week, which ended in a face-off between pickets and interim President Daniel A. Castro. Tate's supporters plan to take their case to district trustees at their regular meeting today.

Tate had opposed a scheduling change that was unpopular among some students and other faculty.

Trade-Tech plans to switch to a 16-week, condensed semester calendar next year, replacing the current 18-week calendar. Similar calendars are credited with boosting enrollment at other campuses. At Trade-Tech, though, some are unhappy that the change will result in some longer classes and five-day schedules instead of four.

Tate, who has long overseen vocational programs at Trade-Tech, has started work as a dean at East Los Angeles College.

She said Castro had unfairly faulted her for "not controlling the faculty, and setting up student demonstrations, none of which I did."

Castro, the interim president for five months, expressed concern that passions had been inflamed by rumors. He was critical of faculty members for involving students in personnel decisions.

Tate is "one of best deans I've got," Castro said, but added that the two had disagreed over the new schedule. "You can't just pull an oar for one side, you have to pull for both sides, or the boat goes in circles," he said.

In August, faculty at Los Angeles Valley College raised objections to the transfer of that school's longtime vice president of administration, Mary Ann Breckell. She is now at Trade-Tech, where some faculty give her high marks.

The Valley decision sparked protests and a rally in an unsuccessful attempt to stop the transfer. A similar controversy, also stemming from a personnel decision, unfolded recently at Southwest College.

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