A federal judge on Friday blocked the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools from revoking the accreditation of Edward Waters College while the institution pursues a due process lawsuit against the association.
In December, the regional accrediting group said that it had revoked the Florida college's accreditation, citing documents Edward Waters officials had submitted to the association that appeared to have been plagiarized from Alabama A&M University, another historically black institution.
Edward Waters asked the association's appeals committee to reconsider on the grounds that the accreditor's punishment was too harsh and that it did not follow its own rules in making the decision. The appeal was rejected late last month, prompting the college to file its lawsuit.
In a ruling Friday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Timothy J. Corrigan of the Middle District of Florida wrote that Edward Waters had shown "substantial likelihood that it will prove at trial that the association denied the college due process," according to a news release from Edward Waters. Corrigan issued a preliminary injunction barring the group from ending Edward Waters's accreditation until the trial, and directed the parties to seek mediation.
In the college's news release, the chairman of its Board of Trustees, Bishop McKinley Young, called the judge's decision "an important victory" for Edward Waters. "It is now beginning to be understood that EWC has been denied its due process," he said.
Citing the continuing legal case, James T. Rogers, executive director of the Southern association, said he was not in a position to comment on the judge's ruling, or on the accreditor's next steps.