Published Online: March 22, 2013

US, Miss. school reach deal over punishment

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The Justice Department says it has reached a deal with a Mississippi school district to end harsh disciplinary practices that disproportionally effect black students in the city of Meridian.

Jocelyn Samuels, a deputy assistant U.S. attorney general, said Friday that black students in the Meridian School District routinely receive harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.

The agreement calls for the district to end discriminatory punishment practices by the end of the 2016-2017 school year. It must be approved by a federal judge.

The agreement is separate from a Justice Department lawsuit against the city of Meridian, Lauderdale County, the two Lauderdale County Youth Court judges and the Mississippi Department of Human Services.

That lawsuit alleges that there is "school-to-prison pipeline" in Meridian that locks up students for minor infractions.

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