UNC Board of Governors member Joe Knott proposed a ban on litigation for the UNC Center for Civil Rights, and said there should be a distinction between the law school’s legal clinics that provide education to students.
The Educational Planning, Policies and Programs Committee debated the proposal and voted to do more research before making a final decision.
Anna Nelson is the chair of the committee. She said the committee will be developing a joint report with Chancellors Carol Folt and Johnson Akinleye to help make the decision.
“We have committed to further study and asking the chancellors at Chapel Hill and Central, both of which have law schools, to help us with the committee and staff at GA to help put together a report and for those chancellors to come back to the committee with recommendations with alternative governing structures,” she said.
But Martin Maloney, a law student at UNC said he interned at the center. He said it’s important in helping to teach students real applications of concepts they learn in law school, and helping others while they do it.
“The work that we do there, and the level and amount of research I’m able to receive from one-on-one supervision and the unique and unveiled ability to engage in macro-level real-world litigation and advocacy is unrivaled,” he said.
The civil rights center has taken on cases involving education and race since its opening in 2001. The center helps place representation for people and families with low incomes.
But board member Steve Long is a supporter of the proposal. He said UNC centers should only focus on education, and shouldn’t be able to sue the state, according to the News and Observer.
The center sued Pitt County Schools for a reassignment plan in 2015.
Nelson said she and the rest of the committee are aware of how many use, work for or support the center and that the committee is working on ways to include more voices as members develop a report.
“Over 200 people have reached out formally,” she said. “And there will be another mechanism that will be figured out here shortly as to how we can have more voices.”
The board will reevaluate and decide after both chancellors have submitted reports.