S.C. State responds to suit that higher ed in S.C. segregated

Several hundred people gather at the South Carolina Statehouse for a rally to protest a proposal to close South Carolina State University for at least a year on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015, in Columbia, S.C. Last week, a House panel passed a proposal to temporarily close SC State for a massive overhaul, then reopen it in 2017. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins)

CHARLESTON — South Carolina’s only historically black public university says it has immunity and that those who sued alleging that South Carolina operates a segregated system of higher education have no standing to sue.

Current and former South Carolina State students earlier this year sued the state and the Higher Education Commission in federal court claiming a duplication of programs at other public universities hurts S.C. State’s enrollment and finances.

The school was later added as a defendant and responded last month.

The response says some of the allegations involve actions by the state or the commission, not the university, and that the statute of limitations has expired.

The lawsuit seeks unspecified monetary damages and a special mediator to recommend a remedy for what it calls a segregated higher education system.