A Delaware judge has left open the possibility that dissident Hewlett-Packard Co. director Walter Hewlett still can torpedo the company’s $19 billion acquisition of Compaq Computer Corp.

Chancery Court Judge William B. Chandler III ruled April 8 that there is merit to Hewlett’s lawsuit accusing HP of improperly enticing a big investor to back the deal and making false statements about the progress of the complex merger plans.

At press time, the case was set for trial April 23, even as an independent proxy firm continued to count the ballots from March 19’s shareholder vote—and both companies pressed ahead with their integration plans in hopes of closing the deal in early May. HP believes it won the vote by a “slim but sufficient” margin.

HP attorneys had asked that Hewlett’s suit be thrown out, saying in part that the heart of what he alleges is not illegal even if it did happen.

The company said it respected Chandler’s decision, but remained confident that “once the facts are heard, we will prevail. … We remain optimistic we will be able to complete the merger on our current schedule.”

If the mega-merger goes through, its effects are sure to be felt by the school technology field. Together, the two companies account for 11 percent of the installed base of computers in K-12 schools, according to market research firm Quality Education Data.

Although HP traditionally has focused more on the business market than on education, Compaq education customers who spoke with eSchool News said they weren’t concerned about the pending merger.

“The information we have from Compaq is that we do not expect any significant change in the services or products they are providing to us,” said Daniel New, executive director of technology program management for the Richardson Independent School District in Texas. “I don’t expect any impact on the services we receive.”