A D.C. Superior Court judge yesterday extended until today the temporary reinstatement of Janice McKnight, the Howard University student newspaper editor whose Feb. 1 expulsion touched off a series of protests against the university administration.
Judge Sylvia Bacon extended a Feb. 8 temporary restraining order restoring McKnight as a student and as editor of The Hilltop and said she would rule today on McKnight's request for a preliminary injunction barring university officials from expelling her until the matter is resolved at trial.
Howard's attorney, Robert P. Watkins, told the judge that McKnight's request for a preliminary injunction should be denied because McKnight misrepresented her academic background on her admissions application.
Arguing that the university acted properly in expelling McKnight, a senior with a B average, Watkins cited a case in which a student at Duke University's medical school passed all his courses, but still was denied a degree when officials discovered he had mispresented himself on his application form.
Watkins also revealed yesterday that McKnight refused a university offer last week to take the matter to a student-faculty judiciary committee for a formal hearing.
McKnight maintains in her court papers that her dismissal was improper because she was denied such a hearing.
The university has said previously that she was not entitled to a hearing because her student status was voided automatically when officials discovered that she didn't disclose her previous enrollment at Syracuse University when she applied for admission to Howard in 1979.
John Clifford, one of McKnight's attorneys, said in an interview yesterday that McKnight refused the hearing offer because a 30-day period set by university by-laws for a hearing had expired when the offer was made.
"Why would anyone want to go through it a hearing if they have a statute of limitations defense?" Clifford said."
McKnight was expelled from the university after she published several articles about a sex discrimination complaint filed by a male staff lawyer.
University officials said a subsequent examination of her records showed that she had left Syracuse University "not in good standing" but had failed to note that on her application.