Mediation between Maryland and its historically black institutions, scheduled to be completed by April 30, was extended by three months Thursday.
The 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ordered the parties to mediate their dispute, which dates back to 2006, in January. The mediation period was extended through July 29 in Thursday’s order.
The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education, on behalf of the four HBIs in the state, accused the Maryland Higher Education Commission of “maintaining vestiges of the prior de jure system of segregation” by allowing traditionally white schools to duplicate programs that were unique to the HBIs. The parties were repeatedly referred to mediation by the trial court but could never reach an agreement.
In a per curium order Jan. 2, the 4th Circuit panel that heard arguments in the case in December, found “neither party has a realistic appreciation of the strengths and weaknesses of their respective claims and contentions” and ordered them to meet with a mediator.
The 4th Circuit determined that the case should be settled, 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.”
U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake ruled on liability in 2013 and found unnecessary program duplication was the sole policy traceable to the de jure era. She held a separate trial on damages in 2017 after the parties failed to reach a settlement.
Blake issued a ruling on relief in November 2017 that included a permanent injunction requiring a special master be appointed to oversee the creation of a remedial plan to address past unequal treatment of HBIs.
The case is Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education et al. v. Maryland Higher Education Commission et al., 17-2418.