South Carolina legislators move closer to taking over SC State

Budget writers votes to oust president, trustees, do not advance plan to close school

South Carolina House of Representatives budget writers on Wednesday voted to force out the trustees and president of the state's only historically black university, moving another step closer to taking over the struggling South Carolina State University (SC State), reports Reuters.

The move must still be debated by the full state Congress.

South Carolina panel votes to close struggling state college

Legislators did not, however, advance the proposal to shutter the university for two years. Under that plan, which about 1,000 people protested on Monday, the school would close in July and its faculty, staff, administrators, and trustees would all be fired. It could reopen in the fall of 2017 with new leadership, although some of its employees could reapply for their positions.

"We're gonna fix it," promised Phillip Lowe (R), a member of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Though university supporters expressed some relief that lawmakers backed off the notion of closing SC State, many remain against lawmakers' ideas and say the negative publicity has cut into fund-raising and student recruitment.

"South Carolina State has been underfunded since its existence," says Vernell Brown, the school's alumni association president.

Last week, a group of alumni and students filed a federal lawsuit alleging the state maintains a "dual system of education based on race" by offering duplicate programs at wealthier nearby universities, preventing SC State from hitting its enrollment targets (McLeod, Reuters, 2/19).

The takeaway: South Carolina lawmakers moved closer to taking over the struggling South Carolina State University, but did not advance a plan to close the school for two years.

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