U.S. Fourth Circuit - The FindLaw 4th Circuit Court of Appeals Opinion Summaries Blog

4th Circuit Sends Maryland Desegregation Case Back to Mediation

Sometimes settlements come because the participants are just worn out. That includes the judges.

You could say that's the case in The Coalition for Equity and Excellence in Maryland Higher Education v. McMillan. The case -- a battle over funding for Maryland's predominantly black schools -- has been dragging on for 13 years.

The U.S. Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals sent the parties back to the negotiating table because the judges have seen enough.

Litigation and Mediation

Through years of litigation and mediation, graduates from the state's historically black colleges and universities want more than $100 million in programs to attract diverse students to their alma maters.

Maryland officials have pledged millions toward joint degrees and programs for high school students at predominantly black schools to increase the pool of college and university applicants. But it hasn't worked -- for more than a decade.

The plaintiffs say the state is fostering segregation by allowing well-funded schools to undermine programs at their schools. A trial judge agreed, but the state appealed.

"Can and Should Be Settled"

The Fourth Circuit said the case "can and 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."

The appeals panel gave the parties until April 30.

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