Black Caucus Calls Settlement Offer in HBCU Equity Lawsuit ‘Woefully Inadequate’

A version of this letter was sent to Maryland Gov. Lawrence J. Hogan on Feb. 16:

I write in response to your chief legal counsel’s Feb. 7, 2018, letter of information regarding the status of the case — Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Inc. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission et al — and your administration’s goals.

Cheryl D. Glenn

Del. Cheryl D. Glenn is the chair of the Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland.

The Maryland Legislative Black Caucus appreciates that correspondence and your desire to end litigation in a manner satisfactory to all parties and to all Marylanders. We share your desire and believe that justice in this matter is long overdue.

Respectfully, your “comprehensive settlement” offer of up to $100 million over ten years is woefully inadequate given the district court’s finding that, in the decades since Brown v. Board of Education, the state has violated the constitutional rights of students at Maryland’s Historically Black Institutions. We note that similar lawsuits in other states such as Mississippi and Alabama have been settled for over $500 million and still have proven inadequate to alleviate longstanding educational discrimination in those states. While supplemental appropriations are necessary and appropriate, any proposed settlement should include the establishment of programmatic niches, academic enhancements, and a reformed process for approving new academic programs, at each HBI. We believe the court’s remedial framework, which would be overseen by a special master, goes a long way towards a truly comprehensive solution.

In sum, the single greatest state-sponsored educational deprivation in Maryland’s history deserves more. Given the proven, multi-generational discrimination against Maryland HBIs and the enormous importance of these institutions to our state, we believe an Amazon HQ2-like commitment is warranted from your administration.

Del. Cheryl D. Glenn
Chair, Legislative Black Caucus of Maryland


One comment

  • Governor Hogan’s offer of a $100 million ten-year infusion settlement is less than a serious offer reflecting only surface understanding of the issues that must be addressed in response to the requirements of the federal court order. A monetary settlement must be based on a determination of academic program, professorial, student recruitment, delayed endowment, and associated facilities enhancements that are required to address the residual inequities associated with the Maryland’s dual system of higher education. Enhancements must include, among other things,: (1) infusion of general endowment funds to compensate for the major endowment deficits associated with Maryland’s long-term discriminatory dual higher education system; (2) funds to recruit, hire and retain additional anchor professors to drive academic programs at the state’s HBCUs; (3) funds for scholarship programs to compensate for the student recruitment lag associated with the dual higher education system; (4) development and enhancement funds to support the single location non-duplicative academic programs at the state’s HBCUs; and (5) funds to address delayed facilities maintenance needs that arose in the wake of years of discriminatory state appropriations. Once these enhancements are determined, based on recommendations from the court-appointed special master, required final costs can be determined. A settlement offer without these considerations is premature and ill-considered. In the Mississippi Ayers case, the amount was in the range of $500 million. In Maryland, the cost may exceed one billion dollars. I hope Governor Hogan, in conjunction with the leadership of the Maryland Senate and House, the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus, the leadership of HBCUs, and other experts in Higher education, will collaborate and arrive at an academic program, professorial, facilities and student development remedial design that will address the residual issues associated with the Maryland’s dual higher education system. Alvin Thornton, Ph.D.

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