Arguments in Frankfort center around legality of changes to U of - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Arguments in Frankfort center around legality of changes to U of L Board

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WDRB) -- A judge is expected to make a decision soon on whether or not to issue an injunction in Gov. Matt Bevin’s reorganization of the University of Louisville board of trustees.

On Thursday, a Franklin County Circuit Court judge heard arguments from the Attorney General’s office and Gov. Bevin’s general counsel on whether or not Bevin’s executive order was legal.

In an executive order issued in June, Gov. Bevin abolished U of L’s board and created a new one with 10 appointed members instead of the 17 set by state law.

Gov. Bevin’s lawyers argued that the Kentucky General Assembly still has to approve the changes and that his order is only temporary until that happens.

The Attorney General’s office argued that that position would be an abuse of power by the governor.

“As every day goes by, we have less and less confidence that what they say one day will be what they say the next day,” said Gov. Bevin’s general counsel Steve Pitt about the Attorney General’s office.

The first arguments in the hearing Thursday centered around accreditation and whether or not Gov. Bevin’s order put the University of Louisville’s status in question.

The Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, or SACS, expects accredited institutions to comply with about 100 standards, including a policy that members of the university’s governing board can be dismissed “only for appropriate reasons and by a fair process.”

The university recently received a letter from SACS requesting more information about Gov. Bevin’s changes and their effect on the university’s compliance with SACS standards.

The second argument is based on the legal merits of the executive order. Bevin claims that he did not dismiss any trustees and instead abolished the board entirely. As a result, Bevin’s attorney says that dismissal for cause was not necessary and no due process for each trustee was needed.

The Attorney General’s office disagrees.

“The governor has stated he has absolute authority to reorganize any board in the state,” said assistant Attorney General Mitchel Denham. “We don't believe he does, particularly with university boards. There are specific statutes that do not permit him to remove individual trustees unless it's for cause and unless there's process. He gave them no process whatsoever.”

The judge did not say when he was make a decision on the temporary injunction, but indicated it would be soon.

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