Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Officials Defend Mississippi Desegregation Suit Settlement Offer

Magazine article Black Issues in Higher Education

Officials Defend Mississippi Desegregation Suit Settlement Offer

Article excerpt

JACKSON, MISS.

Higher education officials and the Mississippi attorney general defended the state's counteroffer to a desegregation suit settlement posed by advocates for Black universities.

The state College Board offered plaintiffs in the 25-year-old Ayers case about $400 million last month, an amount that was half of what was sought, says U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.

"We believe it is ... a very good offer," says College Board President Carl Nicholson Jr. of Hattiesburg. Thompson disclosed the amount of the counteroffer, along with criticism for the proposal for falling so far short of the $800 million plaintiffs had sought.

"I would not accept the College Board's settlement offer as the gospel for settling Ayers because it leaves many critical issues unaddressed," Thompson says.

Bargaining talks were scheduled to resume at Black Issues' press time.

Asked about the $400 million figure as the amount in the board proposal, Attorney General Mike Moore says it was "in the ballpark," but he would not be more specific about the plan.

"I believe the College Board proposal is a very sound and substantial proposal," Moore says.

Nicholson says the counteroffer had to be balanced with the state's fiscal constraints.

Officials say the costs of a board plan would be spread out over 15 years. Both sides agree on one thing: A settlement isn't near.

"There is still a lot of work that all of us will have to do if a settlement is to come," Thompson says. …

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