Ken Paxton and other regents support Wallace Hall in lawsuit

Van Nguyen

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and two UT System Board of Regents members filed court briefs last week in favor of Regent Wallace Hall’s lawsuit against Chancellor William McRaven.

This is Hall’s second appeal in the case regarding McRaven’s refusal to divulge private student information from an investigation about student admissions led by Hall.

The lawsuit, which began June of 2015 and has been dismissed twice and appealed twice, is now in the hands of the Texas Supreme Court. 

“I am confident that the actions of the UT System have been in accordance with state and federal laws protecting confidential student information and we will continue to defend our position,” McRaven said to The Daily Texan in September. 

Paxton said he has fully supported Hall’s efforts to gain access to confidential student records. In previous court briefs, Paxton said University regents have a right to access University information to fulfill their duty as regents and he continues to hold this opinion going into Hall’s second appeal.

“The attorney general previously issued an attorney general opinion holding that University regents have a right of access to University information to fulfill their fiduciary duty to the University,” Kayleigh Lovvorn, media relations for Paxton, said in an email. 

Paxton continues to hold this opinion going into Hall’s second appeal, Lovvorn said.

“Both the Board’s rules and Texas law ensure that Regent Hall can only use the information he obtains for legitimate educational interests, providing a criminal penalty for the use or disclosure of information that has not been made public,” Paxton said in his court brief. “The University has no basis to assume the information requested will be used in a way as to violate state and federal privacy laws.”

Hall said in his lawsuit System officials don’t have the power to restrict a regent’s access to information, but the Board of Regents voted 6-3 in favor of denying him access in 2015.

Regent Alex Cranberg and Regent Brenda Pejovich have also filed court briefs in support of Hall. They both argue Hall needs access to perform his duties as a regent.

Hall’s term as a regent ends in February, and the governor’s office did not respond at the time of publication to inquiries about whether Hall will be reinstated.

Hall’s lawyers filed a motion to expedite the decision process in September because they believe the court could lose jurisdiction of the case if it is not decided before Hall’s term is finished. 

“There is no expiration date for doing the right thing,” Hall said to The Daily Texan in September.