Hall threatens legal action, seeks documents

Jackie Wang

Attorney General Ken Paxton approved Regent Wallace Hall’s request June 15 to hire a lawyer to sue the UT System.

Hall, a member of the UT System Board of Regents, threatened to sue the System for access to admissions documents. Hall first asked to see documents Kroll Associates, Inc. used for the admissions process March 6 after an investigation showed former UT President William Powers Jr. had a hand in the admissions process, but he did not break any formal rules.

Hall requested the documents to pursue his own independent investigation. Only two votes of approval were needed from the Board, and three members voted to approve Hall’s request April 8. But Chancellor William McRaven refused to give Hall access to the Kroll documents, citing confidentiality rules. The Board then changed rules to require a majority vote to approve information requests from regents.

Paxton advised the UT System Board of Regents in a letter June 15 to comply with Hall’s request and said the new rule was against state law. He also said because the Board was “obstructing [Hall’s] right under state law to access System records,” the UT System should pay for his lawyer.

Since Hall is a member of the UT System, he would be suing the institution that employs him as well as using UT System funds to sue.

Dan Sharphorn and Francie Frederick, general counsels to the Board of Regents, said in a letter to Paxton on Wednesday that Hall was not being denied any documents he had requested, except in the case of information the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act protects. They also said paying for a lawyer was out of the question.

“Although your letter indicates that Regent Hall’s request for outside counsel has already been approved, please understand that we do not have authority to pay for outside counsel under these circumstances,” they wrote in a letter to Paxton on June 16. “For that reason, UT System cannot approve any vouchers submitted for that purpose.”

Hall asked McRaven to consult the Board of Regents before destroying or deleting any Kroll documents. McRaven told Hall he would stay committed to providing all the information he legally was able to but would adhere with FERPA guidelines and protect student and family privacy.

McRaven also said Hall had not looked at the available information and could not base an argument for needing more information to perform his responsibilities as a trustee.

“I am at a loss to understand how you can imply that we are impeding your fiduciary responsibilities — when you haven’t even reviewed the information I have offered,” McRaven wrote in an email to Hall on May 27. “Must you have student names in order to perform those duties? How do you know that until you look at everything we have to show you?”

Hall could not be reached for comment. The UT System declined to comment.