Talking Points for Comments on Status of HBI Coalition Case
The July 30 deadline for a court-directed mediation of the lawsuit brought by a coalition of students, faculty, alumni and other supporters of Maryland’s four historically Black universities has expired without an agreement and the case has returned to the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals for a ruling. During a hearing in December 2017, the appellate court had said that the case could, and should have been resolved earlier and if the two parties were unable to resolve their differences neither side may be happy with a decision from the court.
A lower court ruled in October 2013 that Maryland was operating a dual and segregated system of higher education in violation of the U.S. Constitution and in November 2016 that court ordered the State to address the violation by establishing at each HBI a set of unique and high demand programs with additional funding for scholarships, recruitment and marketing. The Coalition is simply asking that the state of Maryland abide by the remedy ordered by the court inclusive of the prohibition against unnecessary program duplication in the future.
Academic programs are the heart and soul of a college or university and the court found that Maryland’s Traditionally White Universities have more than a 10 to 1 advantage over the Historically Black Institutions in unique and high demand programs. The severity of the program disparity, coupled with the lack of student financial aid and support for recruitment and marketing, negatively affects the ability of HBIs to recruit a critical mass of faculty, secure appropriate facilities, increase and diversify student enrollment, retain and graduate students, secure government and corporate funding and maintain creditable standing within the academic community.
Contrary to a recent proposal providing for the combining of Coppin University and Baltimore Community College with the University of Baltimore under a new governing board, the issues facing the HBIs are unrelated to structure. Otherwise, those issues would have been addressed in the mid-sixties when HBIs were made part of the Board of Trustees for State Colleges, or in the late eighties when HBIs were incorporated into the University System of Maryland. Moreover, the Court reasoned that such mergers were not educationally sound.
The problem continues to be Maryland’s policies, practices and politics for the approval and distribution of programs and related resources among its Traditionally White and Historical Black institutions which has given rise to the segregated system of higher education in Maryland. The court has ordered a remedy for addressing the continuing harm done to HBIs under the dual system of higher education and the State appears determined to preserve the status quo.
Absent the court’s remedy, the injury to Maryland’s HBIs and their students will persist, and their future will continue to be uncertain. The HBI Coalition refuses to concede such a dismal future for the HBIs and wait anxiously for a ruling from the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals. Meanwhile HBI students, alumni, faculty, staff and other supporters must continue pressuring Governor Larry Hogan and other lawmakers to spare us the rhetoric and settle the case. It is not enough for our governor to defend the City of Baltimore and our state against the viral attacks of the President of the United States; he must instead transform our HBIs into engines of community change and stability comparable to TWIs in other communities.
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From Maryland Matters: By Danielle E. Gaines -July 31, 2019
Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George's), chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines
Another round of court-ordered mediation has again ended without resolution in the 13-year case by a coalition of historically black colleges and universities against the state of Maryland.
The most recent deadline – imposed by a panel of three U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals judges in January – passed on Monday.
The judges had urged the state and the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education to settle the case, “otherwise, the parties will likely condemn themselves to endless years of acrimonious, divisive and expensive litigation that will only work to the detriment of higher education in Maryland.”
Jon Greenbaum, chief counsel for the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights, which represents the coalition, confirmed Tuesday that there was no resolution during the mediation period, but said he remains confident the HBCUs would prevail in court.
The coalition of HBCUs – Morgan State, Coppin State, Bowie State and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – first filed the case against Maryland in 2006, alleging that the state had failed to dismantle vestiges of segregated higher education, including by underfunding the four institutions and by allowing traditionally white state universities to continue creating new degree programs that were duplicative of programs at the historically black schools.
In U.S. District Court, the coalition prevailed in claims that program duplication had perpetuated the segregation of Maryland’s higher education system.
As a remedy, the coalition wanted the state to stop allowing duplication of educational programs, the development of new and unique programs at HBCUs and more state funding for capital improvements on HBCU campuses. Maryland offered financial settlements which the coalition found inadequate without a concrete plan for implementing reforms.
The state appealed the District Court’s finding in 2017. The case was argued at the Fourth Circuit in December 2018 and, before deciding the matter, the judges placed the case in mediation a few weeks later.
Attorneys on both sides said Tuesday that they could not comment specifically about what happened in mediation. The Maryland Attorney General’s Office declined to comment.
Greenbaum said now that the case is back in the judges’ hands, he expects “to continue to meet with success in this case.”
“What we’re hoping for is that this case can get resolved not too long from now and that the HBCUs will be in a more competitive place,” Greenbaum said.
It’s hard to predict when the case will move forward. No formal notice had been filed with the court about the failed settlement discussions as of 9 p.m. Tuesday.
In an emailed statement, a spokeswoman for Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. (R) said “the administration is always open to discussions in an effort to settle this case in a fair and equitable manner.”
In 2018, Hogan said he was willing to direct as much as $100 million to HBCUs over the next 10 years to settle the lawsuit. Last year, he discussed the case with members of the Legislative Black Caucus, who considered the prior offer inadequate.
On Tuesday, Del. Darryl Barnes (D-Prince George’s), chairman of the caucus, said resolution of the case will continue to be a top priority for the LBC. Barnes said he was going to reach out to Hogan to see if it’s possible to work as a group to settle the claims.
“It’s something I hope the governor will take a stance and step in and do something about,” Barnes said.
An ideal resolution would include an analysis of duplicative degree programs, an agreement on which schools should offer which programs and some financial award, he said.
However, Barnes is worried that a high-dollar settlement for HBCUs is becoming less likely, especially with the legislative focus on funding the multi-billion-dollar annual price tag to fully implement Kirwan Commission recommendations for improving K-12 education in the state.
“At this point, I’m very disappointed with how things are turning out,” Barnes said about the still-lingering lawsuit. “We have been fighting for our HBCUs and to settle this lawsuit for quite some time. And we will continue to make this a high priority of the Legislative Black Caucus.”
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Senate President Miller urges resolution of HBCU lawsuit against Maryland over state's treatment of schools
Speaking Thursday from his seat in the Senate chamber, Miller suggested that the state give Bowie State University money to establish a law school, help fund the purchase of additional land for Morgan State University in Baltimore and reward the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore for a successful physical therapy degree program by creating another sought-after academic curriculum there.
Mike Miller, a Democrat, urged Republican Gov. Larry Hogan to come up with a meaningful offer to settle the suit.
“This is our message to the second floor,” Miller said, referring to the location of the governor’s office in the State House. “We’re here to help. You come up with a program. You come up with a way to solve this issue. We need a win-win.”
A 12-year-old lawsuit that advocates have called the most important higher education desegregation case in decades “can and should be settled,” according to a panel of judges on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.
The case has pitted a coalition of advocates* of historically black colleges against...
Hogan has offered $100 million in extra funding to the universities over 10 years, but HBCU supporters called that inadequate.
“We are in the process of mediation and remain interested in reaching an agreement that will conclude the case in a way that is fair and equitable for Maryland’s college students,” Hogan spokeswoman Shareese Churchill said Thursday in a statement.
Representatives from the state’s four historically black schools — Morgan State and Coppin State universities in Baltimore, Bowie State and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, in Princess Anne — have accused the state of allowing well-funded programs at historically white universities to undermine similar programs at the HBCUs.
The lawsuit was filed 12 years ago, and the courts ruled in 2013 that the state’s actions perpetuated segregation. A federal court ordered mediation to work toward remedies. The court set a deadline of April 30.
The governor has declined to discuss the details because the court has ordered the negotiations to be conducted confidentially. However, Hogan has said he hopes to resolve the lawsuit, supports HBCUs and has offered them increased funding since he’s been in office.
In a letter to Del. Cheryl D. Glenn, chair of the state’s...
Miller said he hopes the case can be settled without an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“We need to resolve it right now,” he said.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland have urged Hogan to come up with what they call a meaningful offer to settle the lawsuit.
And the Maryland Democratic Party issued a statement Thursday, also calling for a resolution.
The HBCUs “have long played a critical role in our state by educating generations of African-Americans,” said, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, the party’s chairwoman. “The Maryland Democratic Party fully stands with our HBCUs, and we believe that swift resolution of the lawsuit would be ideal for all parties involved.”
From Inside Higher
Gov. Larry Hogan met with members of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland on Thursday to discuss a settlement to a long-running dispute over the state's treatment of its historically black colleges, as well as other priorities of the caucus this legislative session.
Hogan said after the meeting that HBCUs have his strong support. The governor told reporters the state has "drastically increased funding for all HBCUs, now with this recent budget, five years in a row — far more than the previous administration, which I think surprised the black caucus members that we talked to this morning."
The Hogan administration notes $1.15 billion in state funds has been invested in Maryland's four historically black colleges since the governor entered office in 2015. Hogan said the state will continue to work on resolving the matter that is now in mediation in a federal court case.
"My desire is to resolve it," Hogan, a Republican, said. "We do have offers on the table. We're hoping that both parties can reach agreement, but we're under court order to not discuss those mediations or those offers, so I can't get into much detail other than that."
Members of the caucus said a proposed settlement last year by the governor of $100 million over 10 years is inadequate. Del. Jay Walker, a caucus member who attended the meeting, pointed to previous settlements in other states that were significantly larger.
"To offer $100 million over 10 years, at $10 million a year, you're not really trying to make a difference, so I don't think we're close to the settlement," said Walker, a Prince George's County Democrat. "You always hear the statement, 'I've offered more than any other governor before in the past.' Well, I remember when I was here we had to deal with a deficit, a financial crisis, and there was no money there to be offered during the (Gov. Martin) O'Malley administration, so if you really want to take a leadership role, do the right thing by HBCUs in the state."
Del. Darryl Barnes, a Prince George's County Democrat who chairs the caucus, told reporters after the breakfast meeting at the governor's residence that the caucus is focusing on the issue to make sure "we settle this lawsuit in a way that's beneficial to all."
"We didn't discuss a figure per se, but we did let him know where we stood on ensuring that the settlement gets settled fast," Barnes said.
Earlier this year, a federal appeals court ordered a fourth attempt at mediation in the 12-year-old dispute. A three-judge panel of the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals set an April 30 deadline to reach a mediated settlement and ordered monthly progress reports from the mediator. The colleges say the state underfunded them while developing programs at traditionally white schools that drain prospective students away.
Maryland's four historically black colleges are Bowie State University, Coppin State University, Morgan State University and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore.