About 400 students were dismissed this month from State Center Community College District campuses -- the first time poor-performing students have been dropped between the fall and spring semesters.
Most of the students had posted a cumulative grade-point average below 1.75 for three consecutive semesters, district officials said. A 2.0 is a C average.
A few students were dismissed for failing to complete at least half their registered units for three consecutive semesters.
"These students were not progressing," said John Cummings, State Center's vice president for admissions and records and institutional research.
The nearly 39,000-student district traditionally has sent out dismissal letters following the spring semester, he said.
Up to now, officials had lacked the time to process grades, notify students and handle appeals in the few weeks between the fall and spring semesters.
Mainly through improved technology -- which speeds the production of grade reports, for example -- the district now can process dismissals before the spring semester starts, Cummings said.
The disqualifications are consistent with state law, he said.
Students must sit out a semester before they can apply for readmission.
All of those dropped had been on probation for several semesters and referred to counseling, tutoring or other help, he said.
"There was a lot of warning sent to these students," Cummings said.
Officials didn't dismiss students just to create room in the packed district that includes Fresno City College and Reedley College, he said.
But the move "did free up seats for students who could take those seats and succeed," Cummings said.
All 400 students who received dismissal letters could appeal by citing extenuating circumstances such as illness, jury duty or a death in the family.
Cummings said about 50 students appealed. He didn't know how many appeals were granted, but said usually about half are successful.