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Closing arguments in Md. college segregation case set for June

Coppin State Science and Technology Center

Coppin State Science and Technology Center

After weeks of testimony on the appropriate remedy for Maryland’s failure to effectively desegregate its colleges and universities, the parties have tentatively scheduled closing arguments for June.

U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled four years ago in favor of the Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, which brought suit on behalf of the state’s four historically black institutions, but a meaningful solution has yet to be developed by the parties.

The trial on the remedy began Jan. 9 and concluded in late February with 23 days of trial held throughout the nearly seven-week period.

According to electronic court filings, proposed findings of fact and conclusions of law are due to Blake on April 27 with responses due May 24. The parties agreed Monday to deliver closing arguments June 8.

Blake previously recommended mediation after ruling in the decades-old case that the state maintained “a dual and segregated education system” and that its practices were unconstitutional but the two sides could not reach an agreement.

The plaintiffs argued at the Jan. 9 hearing that the state has underfunded Morgan State, Coppin State and Bowie State universities and the University of Maryland Eastern Shore while developing programs at traditionally white schools that directly compete with and drain prospective students away from the African American schools.

Their proposed solution involved a system to develop niche programs and transfer some existing ones to the four schools to help them attract students.

But the Maryland Higher Education Commission contended it does not impose programs but approves them after they spring up organically from student and faculty interest. They claim forcing programs onto the schools would be harmful to the entire university system.

The case is Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education Inc. et al. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission et al., 1:06-cv-02773.


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