Regent Wallace Hall Sues UT Chancellor Over Records

 

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UT regent Wallace Hall filed suit this week against UT chancellor William McRaven in a dispute over access to admissions records.

Hall alleges that the UT System unlawfully denied him access to records that were part of an independent investigation into admissions practices at UT-Austin. In February, that investigation found that some students were admitted at the discretion of then-UT president Bill Powers and other top administrators.

In a statement released Wednesday, McRaven said that the System has shared all the documents Hall has requested except those that reveal personal information protected by privacy laws. “Where federal or state law makes confidential information that relates to a specific individual, whether it is private health information or an individual student’s protected information, it is our duty to ensure that we strictly comply with those confidentiality requirements,” McRaven said.

Hall’s extensive information requests for UT records prompted a legislative committee to censure him last year. Hall has defended his actions as within the bounds of a regent’s responsibilities, and when a legislative committee was drawing up articles of impeachment against him in May 2014, then-Texas Gov. Rick Perry issued a statement in his defense. “Wallace Hall should be commended for his persistence—in the face of overwhelming opposition from bureaucrats—in trying to ensure the institutions of higher education under his purview are operating effectively, efficiently and within the law,” Perry said.

Attorney General Ken Paxton has also spoken out in favor of Hall.“Access to records is a necessary part of a board member’s fulfillment of his or her duties,” Paxton wrote in an advisory opinion issued last month. He added that federal student privacy laws should not stop officials from releasing documents that may be necessary for Hall to perform his job.

On Thursday, the Texas Exes released a statement from president Kay Bailey Hutchison in support of McRaven. “Texas Exes stands with Chancellor McRaven in his pursuit to protect private student records,” Hutchison said. “Lawsuits against the UT Chancellor, as he represents the majority view on the Board of Regents and the best interests of UT, are counterproductive for all concerned.”

 

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