Save SAU Coalition files lawsuit against St. Augustine's University Board of Trustees

Akilah Davis Image
Saturday, June 1, 2024
Save SAU Coalition files lawsuit against St. Aug's Board of Trustees
This lawsuit comes months after the HBCU's accreditation appeal was denied by the accreditation board.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- A lawsuit was filed against the St. Augustine's University Board of Trustees Friday afternoon on behalf of the SAVE SAU Coalition.

The coalition is comprised of 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.

The document is 204 pages long and details what the SAVE SAU Coalition believes is behind the financial struggles plaguing the almost 160-year-old HBCU. It lists scenarios ranging from claims of conflict of interest to the board chairman acting as a loan broker for the university and even steering development projects worth millions to friends.

The 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.

The paperwork stated that the university "now teeters on the edge of chaos, brought to its knees by the utter neglect of its board of trustees and especially its most recent chairmen, Defendants Brian Boulware and James Perry." It goes on to state that "the board is led by a dictatorial and vindictive chairman who is more concerned with lining his own pockets than leading the university."

The lawsuit referred to trustees as "a corrupt echo chamber that has driven away board members who ask hard questions or look underneath the rocks." There are claims that as a result of the loss of accreditation, alumni and current students "face devaluation and diminishment of their degrees."

This lawsuit comes months after the HBCU's accreditation appeal was denied by the accreditation board.

It's important to note, according to alumni, that this lawsuit is not about money. Instead, they are suing the board because of their breach of fiduciary duty, SAU bylaws, and implied duty of good faith and fair dealing.

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The paperwork states that "each defendant trustee must go and must go now. The only way to end corruption and neglect that has decimated SAU is a root and branch house cleaning."

Months back, Interim President Marcus Burgess told Eyewitness News that board members have acknowledged the challenges, but claimed to be unaware of the financial situation.

"When I say immensely sorry for where we are right now and did not know we were in this dire straits," said Burgess.

Eyewitness News reached out to the university and all trustees for comment. We also contacted the attorneys SAVE SAU has retained. We have not heard back from them.