Lawsuit against McRaven appealed for the second time

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Photo Credit: Joshua Guerra | Daily Texan Staff

UT System Regent Wallace Hall recently filed an appeal with the Texas Supreme Court for access to confidential student records, his second in the case he brought against Chancellor William McRaven in 2015. 

Hall filed a lawsuit against McRaven when his initial request for access to the records was denied. The documents may contain information about the admissions scandal that implicated former University president Bill Powers, according to Hall.

The UT System hired Kroll Associates, Inc., a corporate investigations and risk consulting firm based in New York, to investigate UT-Austin’s admission process. The firm found then-president Powers had admitted academically under-qualified students to the University.

Powers confirmed his involvement but said it was in the University’s best interest. 

Powers resigned from his position in 2015 and the UT System approved a policy shortly after which allows the System’s academic institutions to admit under-qualified students if the institutions believe they are acting “optimally and properly” in the best interest of the institution. 

Hall stated in his lawsuit he needs access to the student records to perform his duty as regent. 

Hall’s term as regent ends in February, and it is unclear whether he will have a case for the documents when his term is up. The governor’s office was not able to be reached for a comment on a possible reappointment for Hall. 

Hall’s lawsuit was originally dismissed in December 2015, and his first appeal was denied two weeks ago. 

In spite of this, Hall continues to seek legal action against the chancellor. 

“There is no expiration date for doing the right thing,” Hall said in an email.

Hall said in his lawsuit that System officials don’t have the power to restrict a regent’s access to information, but it was his fellow regents who voted to deny him access to the documents. 

“The Regents’ Rules provide a procedure by which the Board as a whole may consider and either approve or disapprove by majority vote an individual Regent’s request for a significant volume of information,” wrote Chief Justice Cindy Olson Bourland, one of the judges who ruled in the first appeal. “Hall has not challenged the Board’s authority to disapprove his request — instead, he argues ‘McRaven violated his duty as a university employee to provide relevant information when officially requested by a member of the governing board.’”

McRaven offered the documents Hall requested with confidential information redacted, but Hall refused them. 

“I regret that Regent Hall is continuing to pursue access to private student information, despite the fact that a Travis County judge dismissed his case and, less than two weeks ago, the Texas Third Court of Appeals unanimously upheld the dismissal,” McRaven said in a statement. “I am confident that the actions of UT System have been in accordance with state and federal laws protecting confidential student information and we will continue to defend our position.”