UT System Regent Wallace Hall files lawsuit to sue System Chancellor William McRaven

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A Travis County grand jury declined to indict UT System Regent Wallace Hall on Tuesday on charges of abuse of office, misuse of information and official oppression. However, it took the unusual step of issuing a report condemning Hall and calling for his removal.

Photo Credit: Charlie Pearce | Daily Texan Staff

UT System Board of Regents member Wallace Hall is suing System Chancellor William McRaven, officials confirmed Tuesday evening.

Jenny Lacoste-Caputo, spokesperson for the UT System Board of Regents, said the UT System received notice of the lawsuit “late” June 23.

“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,” said Chancellor William McRaven in a statement June 23.  “I regret that Regent Hall believes the lawsuit is necessary or appropriate, but I am confident that my actions are in compliance not only with what the law requires, but also with what is in the best interest of our students, patients, and employees across the U.T. System.”

Hall threatened a lawsuit after the Board of Regents refused to give him access to documents used by Kroll Associates, Inc. in the admissions process. Hall accused former UT President William Powers Jr. of exercising his power in the administration to admit well-connected students who may not have been on the Admissions Office’s acceptance list.

Although an initial investigation concluded no formal rules had been broken in the admissions process by Powers, Hall requested to view all documents for his own independent investigation. McRaven denied Hall’s request, citing laws from the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act to protect students’ and families’ information.

Attorney General Ken Paxton granted Hall permission to hire a lawyer for his lawsuit June 15, advising the Board of Regents in a letter to comply with Hall’s request for access to thousands of admissions-related documents.

Paxton also said in his letter that the Board should pay Hall’s legal fees because they were obstructing his right to the documents and breaking state law in doing so.

Dan Sharphorn and Francie Frederick, general counsels to the Board of Regents, replied to Paxton in a letter June 16 the Board has no obligation to pay for outside legal counsel. They also said Hall was not being denied documents he legally could access.

Correction: An earlier version of this article and its title contained a factual error. UT System Regent Wallace Hall is suing System Chancellor William McRaven, not the entire System. We deeply regret this error.