Discrimination Suit Filed Vs. Texas

Saturday, May 15, 1999; 6:48 a.m. EDT

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) -- Texas Southern University law professors have filed a pair of federal lawsuits against the state, saying it discriminates against historically black colleges with a segregated higher education system and with its funding decisions.

One suit protests the nearly $1 billion set aside for medical schools under the settlement of the state's lawsuit against tobacco companies.

``All of the money was allocated to majority-white institutions,'' said Grover Hankins, a lawyer and Texas Southern law professor. ``None of it was allocated to Texas Southern, Prairie View or the other nine historically black colleges and universities.

``Basically, we want a share of the funds, and we want a substantial share,'' he said this week.

Only health, medical and science-related institutions with graduate and research programs received endowments. The suit seeks to block allocation of $956 million to those universities.

The class-action lawsuit names as plaintiffs Texas Southern students, former students and residents who live near the college. It says the state violated part of the Civil Rights Act that prohibits entities receiving federal dollars from discriminating against racial or ethnic groups.

The second lawsuit alleges Texas maintains a largely segregated higher education system for whites and blacks.

The suit is similar to the 1992 case in which the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Mississippi had maintained separate higher education systems, a violation of civil rights laws.

A spokesman for state Attorney General John Cornyn declined to comment.

Copyright 1999 The Associated Press