City Colleges Kept Tuition Vote Hush-Hush

Students were not given any advance notice, legal experts say

The Board of Trustees for the City Colleges of Chicago unanimously approved a 10-percent tuition increase yesterday that was scheduled to begin this coming summer.

However, experts are now questioning the legality of that decision because the public was not given any advance notice.

A board meeting agenda published on the district's website made no mention of the vote on a tuition hike. An early copy of the program obtained by the Chi-Town Daily News vaguely described the subject as a vote to "amend the rules for the management and government of the City Colleges of Chicago."

Government access advocates are accusing the board of violating the state's Open Meetings Act, which requires public organizations to publish detailed agendas 48 hours before a scheduled meeting. Government agencies can only vote on items that are specifically listed on that agenda.

"If there's going to be an action on the increase in tuition, it ought to be on the agenda so that those who are concerned, which is practically everyone at the school, would know about it," said Dawn Clark Netsch, an emeritus professor of law at Northwestern University. "My sense is it certainly is a violation of the spirit of the Open Meetings Act and its requirements for making known what business is going to be on the agenda."

District officials have insisted that they met with several students regarding the tuition hike, including the Student Government Association.

Students at the seven schools, however, argue that the information given to student government representatives did not reach everyone and that the board should have done a better job of notifying people.

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