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Court extends deadline for HBCU lawsuit mediation

A lawsuit with the potential to reshape higher education in Maryland has been snaking through the legal system for more than a decade. Just when it seemed the contentious case might be wrapping up, the court ordered mediation be extended another three months.

A coalition of advocates for historically black colleges accused the state in 2006 of fostering segregation by allowing well-funded academic programs at traditionally white universities to undermine similar ones at their schools — Morgan State, Coppin State, Bowie State and the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore.

The coalition sued Maryland’s higher education commission, and the two parties have been at odds ever since.

In January, a panel of judges on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the case “can and should be settled.”

The judges instructed the two parties to work toward a mediated settlement and submit it to the 4th Circuit. The judges ordered the mediation should wrap up by April 30, with progress reports every month until then.

On Thursday, a court clerk filed paperwork extending the deadline to July 29.

A spokeswoman for the Maryland attorney general’s office declined to comment.

Michael Jones, a lawyer representing the HBCU coalition, said he looks forward to working with the state to try to get this case resolved.

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