Negotiations between Virginia and the federal government over the state's college desegregation plan have become snagged, officials said yesterday, over federal insistence that the state do more than it wants to eliminate duplicate programs at predominantly black and white colleges in Norfolk.
Unless the issue is resolved, J. Wade Gilley, Virginia's secretary of education, said yesterday that he is fearful that federal officials soon will start action to cut off $100 million annualy in higher education aid to the state.
A spokesman for the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare, which is conducting the negotiations, said yesterday "no final decision" has been made on giving federal approval to Virginia's plan.
She said David S. Tatel, director of the department's office of civil rights, had met with Virginia Gov. John N. Dalton in Richmond to ask the state to make changes.
"We're going to meet again soon," she said. "We're still talking. Our outlook is optimistic."
Virginia and HEW reached a tentative agreement in March on a college desegregation plan that called for major increases in the number of blacks attending predominantly white colleges.
But the agreement was conditioned, HEW said, on the state coming up with an "acceptable" program to narrow the curriculum at Norfolk State College and Old Dominion University to eliminate duplication and force students of both races who want to specialize in a particular field to go to one college or the other.
Norfolk State, which is more than 90 percent black, and Old Dominion, more than 90 percent white; are less than four miles apart.
In July a study commission that included officials of both schools recommended that 26 programs there be merged or eliminated, Gilley said. But he said the colleges wanted to keep five duplicate programs in business and education "in order to have a comprehensive curriculum." Dalton approved the plan and submitted it to HEW.
Last week, Gilley said, after HEW objected, Dalton urged the presidents of the two colleges to try to come up with a compromise that the federal agency would accept.
Virginia has 13 state-supported colleges and universities that are predominantly white and two that are predominantly black. Gilley said HEW has indicated it is satisfied with the proposed desegregation plans for all the colleges except the two in Norfolk.