BALTIMORE (AP) — A federal judge will appoint a special official to craft a plan to increase diversity at Maryland's historically black colleges.
U.S. District Judge Catherine Blake rejected proposals this week by a civil rights group and state higher education officials. She wrote in a ruling Wednesday that neither party's proposals were "practicable, educationally sound, and sufficient to address segregative harms of program duplication."
"At least in part, this results from the parties' failure or inability to consult with the other side in crafting their proposals," Blake wrote.
Blake also wrote that she would not require traditionally white schools to end academic programs and transfer them to historically black colleges.
Instead of adopting either party's proposal as it stands, Blake said the court will appoint a special master to develop a remedial plan. The plan will incorporate elements of the parties' proposals. The judge told parties to submit choices for a special master within 60 days, and the official should submit a final draft of a plan within a year of being appointed.
"Crafting such a Plan is a daunting task requiring the good faith collaboration of the Coalition and the State," Blake wrote. "The court urges such collaboration to strengthen and enhance Maryland's HBI's for the benefit of all Maryland students, present and future."
The case is more than a decade old. A coalition representing the state's four historically black colleges contends the state has underfunded the institutions while developing programs at traditionally white schools that directly compete with and drain prospective students away from the African-American schools.
In 2013, the judge recommended mediation after finding the state had maintained "a dual and segregated education system," and that its practices were in violation of the Constitution. The judge agreed with the coalition that the state allowed traditionally white schools to replicate those of historically black institutions, thus undermining the black schools' success.