Mediation Fails to Resolve Lawsuit Filed by Four HBCUs Against the State of Maryland

The most recent deadline in a 13-year litigation initiated by a group of historically Black colleges and universities against the state of Maryland passed on Monday July 29, with no resolution.

The HBCUs – Morgan State University, Coppin State University, Bowie State University, and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore – filed the case against the state of Maryland in 2006, on the grounds that the state failed to remove systemic barriers that led to segregation in Maryland’s higher education system. These claims included that the state failed to provide proper funding to their respective schools and also allowed predominately White Maryland institutions to create new degree programs that were duplicative of programs at HBCUs.

In U.S. District Court, the HBCUs were proved right in their claims of program duplication leading to segregation in Maryland higher education. However, when the state of Maryland offered financial settlements to remedy the situation, the HBCU coalition found them inadequate. Then, in 2017, the state appealed the District Court’s ruling. The case was discussed in court on December 2018, and was put into mediation a few weeks later.

In 2018, Maryland Governor Lawrence J. Hogan Jr. said he was willing to dedicate as much as $100 million over 10 years to Maryland HBCUs to settle the lawsuit. He discussed the suit with the Legislative Black Caucus (LBC), who told him his offer was inadequate.

Darryl Barnes, chair of the LBC, stresses that this case will be a top priority for the caucus. However, he is pessimistic about the HBCUs receiving the high-dollar settlement they seek.

“At this point, I’m very disappointed with how things are turning out,” Barnes said to Maryland Matters. “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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