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Friday, June 14, 2024

Saint Augustine’s University Alumni Files Lawsuit To Remove Board Of Trustees


RALEIGH, N.C. — The Save SAU Coalition, a group of concerned St. Augustine’s University alumni and supporters filed a lawsuit last Friday to remove the Board of Trustees. The coalition comprises alumni, parents, students, and others with a special interest in the health and future of the university. The lawsuit states two former board members have joined the coalition to launch this complaint.

In the 204-page-long lawsuit, the Save SAU coalition accuses the board of not following bidding procedures for construction projects, violating bylaws, and breaching their implied duties and details what the SAVE SAU Coalition believes is behind the financial struggles plaguing the almost 160-year-old HBCU.

The coalition group is suing the university’s board, but specifically named Chairman Brian Boulware, James Perry, Hadley Evans Jr., Joseph Lynn, Dr. Leon Caldwell, Sophie Gibson, and Antonio Knox in the lawsuit.

The coalition is the same group that called for the board to step down earlier this year as the university’s financial struggles became more apparent. They said at the time their mission was to save Saint Augustine’s University.

The filed lawsuit begins by examining the history of Saint Augustine’s, stating the school “has been a beacon of pride and opportunity for the Black community in Raleigh, in North Carolina, and across the country” for almost 160 years. Founded in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, SAU became an “educational stepping stone for generations of students.”

The lawsuit points out that the university has preserved through tumultuous times, such as the “violent racism of the post-Reconstruction South”, “the ugliness of Jim Crow” and the “tumult of the Civil Rights Movement.”

Saint Augustine’s University in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The news comes amid the Raleigh university’s financial challenges and significant leadership changes in the past few months. The university also lost its accreditation this February after being placed on probation in December 2023.

Representatives with Saint Augustine’s said at the time that they disagreed with the board’s ruling, saying they felt the decision was arbitrary, unreasonable, and inconsistent with the board’s policies.

The lawsuit specifically calls the Board of Directors, accusing the board of neglecting the school. It states Save SAU’s purpose is to remove the board in hopes of correcting the university’s course.

“In its darkest hour … SAU most needs a component, engaged Board of Trustees with smart, moral leadership,” the lawsuit states.

The document lists the Plaintiffs as Henry Debnam, Dr. John Larkins, and Save SAU Coalition all of whom are alumni of SAU, and some who served on the Board of Trustees.

The lawsuit details a large number of complaints and concerns. However, one of their primary goals remains the same as they stated months ago: To keep Saint Augustine’s storied legacy alive for future generations.

We’ve reached out to Saint Augustine’s for comment and are waiting to hear back.

*This story is developing and we will keep you updated as we learn more.

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