Court-Ordered Mediation in HBCU Lawsuit Against Maryland Ends Without Resolution

Photo: Morgan State University / Morgan State University News Service

Court-ordered mediation of a 13-year old case brought by a coalition of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) has ended without a resolution.

The passing of the deadline without a deal has further frustrated efforts for fair funding that the coalition is seeking to help level the playing field with non-black institutions in Maryland.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals had imposed a July 31 deadline for the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education to settle the case with the state.

“There was no resolution,” said Jon Greenbaum, the chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which represents the coalition of HBCUs, which includes the universities of Coppin State, Morgan State, Bowie State, and Maryland Eastern Shore.

The case was initially filed in 2006 when the coalition alleged the state practiced discrimination against its HBCUs by deliberately underfunding the universities and by allowing traditional state schools to continue to create new degree programs that were duplicative of those at the historically black institutions.

The coalition also argue that the state’s actions have placed pressure on enrollment at HBCUs.

They have demanded increased funding and, to achieve parity, they’ve asked the state to merge the University of Baltimore with Morgan State, which is Maryland’s largest public historically black university.

In 2013, Judge Catherine Blake of the U.S. District Court of Maryland, found the state in violation of the 14th Amendment rights of its HBCU students and alumni.

Her ruling said Maryland continues to “operate vestiges of a de jure system of segregation,” specifically by continuing a longstanding practice of duplicating academic programs offered at HBCU’s, rather than investing in making the HBCU programs attractive to a diverse range of students.

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Source: Black Press USA