Several individuals, including members of the Save Tennessee State University Community Coalition, filed a lawsuit against the Tennessee Board of Regents on Wednesday, claiming the board failed to comply with open meeting laws.
Ray and Ellie Richardson of Old Hickory, Gertrude Scruggs of Memphis, Celestine Lowe of Memphis, and Neal McAlpin Jr. of Nashville claim the TBR didn’t let them make public comments during a June 24, 2011, meeting.
The Save TSU Community Coalition has been outspoken about what they perceive as the mishandling of TSU, governed by the TBR. The coalition has hosted “teach-ins” over the past year, including one that partnered with the NAACP.
The members of the group claim that actions by the TBR effectively prevented any open discussion regarding policies related to TSU. The plaintiffs also say that TSU is in “disarray” under the direction of TBR.
“The plaintiffs seek to remedy this problem by actively participating in the meetings to focus on making Tennessee State University a better institution,” the lawsuit states.
The Tennessee Open Meetings Act doesn’t require that governmental meetings allow public comment. But TBR does have a policy that allows members of the public to submit a request 20 days prior to a meeting in order to comment. The request is then reviewed and either approved or denied.
The coalition also claims that the TBR held committee meetings in private regarding TSU without notifying the public. The TBR typically releases committee and quarterly meeting information to media outlets and posts information on its website.
The TBR hadn’t been notified of the lawsuit as of Wednesday afternoon.