Maryland Legislature Looks to Step In to Resolve 14-Year HBCU Litigation

Maryland’s four historically Black state universities have been involved in drawn-out litigation that remains unresolved after 14 years. 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 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. Last fall, Governor Hogan made what he said was a “final offer” of $200 million spread over 10 years.

Now African American leaders in the state legislature are preparing a bill that call for nearly $600 million to settle the lawsuit. The legislators believe that if the suit makes its way to the Maryland Supreme Court, the HBCUs would not fare well considering the makeup of the Court.

Darryl Barnes, chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, stated that “All of us want a first-class education system here in the state of Maryland. Every last one of us. But for me, you can’t have a first-class education system without talking about our higher education institutions. And our higher institutions include our four HBCUs here in the state of Maryland that are disproportionately not receiving what they should.”

 

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