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Judge rejects claim that Cal State tuition hike was illegal

A Cal State L.A. student had sought a preliminary injunction to block the 9% increase for next fall, arguing that the system's trustees violated public meeting laws during a session disrupted by protesters.

December 15, 2011|By Carla Rivera, Los Angeles Times

A Cal State Los Angeles student lost a round Wednesday in his legal battle to prevent a tuition increase when a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge rejected his claim that the Cal State board's recent approval of the hike was illegal.

Robert W. Bates, a graduate student who is seeking a teaching credential, had sought a preliminary injunction to block the 9% increase for next fall, arguing that the university's trustees violated public meeting laws during a tumultuous Nov. 16 session that was disrupted by protesters.

The meeting was halted as police and demonstrators clashed outside and then was reconvened in a nearby room, where trustees voted 9 to 6 for the tuition increase. Several members of the public and media said they were forbidden access or were unaware that the meeting had resumed.

Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, a trustee, later expressed doubts about the transparency of the proceedings and called on the governing board to revisit the vote at another meeting.

Cal State officials argued that, under state law, their actions were permissible when order was disrupted, and Judge Abraham Khan agreed.

"We're pleased with the judge's ruling," Cal State attorney Lorena C. Pe?aloza said. "In this case, the board did what they thought was allowed in a very chaotic situation."

Bates said he was disappointed but vowed to press on with his case unless trustees retake the vote. Another hearing in the case is scheduled for March.

"I wanted to make an effort and put up a good fight, but I'll be back," Bates said. "I would prefer the board reconsider this on their own, because I think it would give them more credibility to the public and students. This looks like a closed room deal and that's why it's important."

carla.rivera@latimes.com

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