Texas Supreme Court to Take Up UT Regent Wallace Hall's Fight Over Student Records

AUSTIN — The Texas Supreme Court next month will resolve a longstanding battle between University of Texas System Regent Wallace Hall and UT System Chancellor Bill McRaven over records collected during an internal investigation into admission processes at UT-Austin. The court announced Friday it will take up the case, scheduling oral arguments for Jan. 11. The court is expediting the case because Hall's 6-year term as a regent ends on Feb. 1. Hall first sued McRaven in 2015, seeking access to records behind an independent report that found numerous under-qualified students were admitted to UT-Austin thanks to the influence of lawmakers, donors and other powerful individuals. McRaven and officials with the UT System have offered to grant Hall access to the records with confidential student information redacted, but Hall has said the documents would be "meaningless" with the redactions. Hall's lawyer Joe Knight told the Austin American-Statesman that Hall would have enough time to review the records and draft a report for his fellow regents if the court rules in his favor. "While his term expires Feb. 1, he retains the office until his successor is nominated by the governor, confirmed by the Senate and sworn in — and we really don't know what date that will be," Knight told the Statesman. "It's not like he has stacks of paper to go through or would have to crawl through a warehouse. He'll be able to very efficiently skim through things that may not be important and focus on those things that are." Hall is no stranger to battles over records with the UT System. Some have accused him of conducting a witch hunt against former UT-Austin President Bill Powers and other leaders at the university when he requested thousands of pages of records. Hall was investigated by a grand jury last year for potentially violating student privacy and overstepping his bounds as a regent through his copious open records requests, but the grand jury declined to indict him.  Continue reading...

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