Compton College Studies Cost of Court Decision

Times Staff Writer

Officials at Compton College say they are concerned about how the college will pay an award of about $350,000 to faculty members resulting from the California Supreme Court's refusal last week to hear its appeal in a 3-year-old legal battle.

"We don't have that kind of money," said Jean S. Larson, acting president of the college. "I don't really know" where it will come from.

Other officials indicated the school might ask to make payments over an extended period, and said the college's board of trustees will meet in executive session next Tuesday to discuss the payment issue. (The school anticipates revenues of just over $8 million for fiscal 1985-86.)

The court case stemmed from a 1982 bargaining agreement between the college and its unionized teachers that provided 8.5% pay raises for full-time teachers and 8.7% for part-timers, retroactive to July, 1981. At first the college board refused to pay the retroactive portion of the raise, saying it had run out of money. Then the county school superintendent blocked payment after the district attempted to pay the teachers with money from another year's budget.

Subordinate to County

"We've been subordinate to and subject to the decisions of the county," said Charles Cropsey, the college's director of public information. "We have always wanted to pay them."

The union took the college to court. It lost the first decision but won before the District Court of Appeal. Last week, the Supreme Court refused to hear the college's appeal of that decision.

Darwin Thorpe, a life sciences teacher at the college and president of the Compton Community College Federation of Teachers, which brought the suit, said he was "ecstatic" with the result, which he said could lead to awards of $415 to $2,200 to each of about 325 teachers employed at the time.

"The district simply did not pay according to the contract," Thorpe said. "It was clear to us from the beginning that any other outcome would have pulled the rug out from under collective bargaining."

Pleased Case Is Resolved

His current concern, he said, is that the district "change its management style sufficiently to pay this award."

Carl Robinson, president of the college board of trustees, said he is pleased that the case finally is resolved.

"They deserve the pay," he said of the teachers. "We're happy that it's over and I'm sure the teachers are happy."

Meanwhile, the district's lawyer, Urrea Jones of Pasadena, said he was "looking at all the options" regarding payment. "We're looking at avenues of making those payments to comply with the court order," he said. "If we can make a schedule of payments with the court's permission, that's what we'd like to do."

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