A new agreement aims to stop what the federal government has labeled discriminatory discipline practices in the 6,100-student Meridian, Miss., district, where black students were three times as likely as white students to be punished after they were referred to administrators and five times as likely to be suspended out of school.
The U.S. Department of Justice said March 22 that the district has agreed to take a number of steps to address problems with disparities in discipline between white and black students.
Those steps include not using suspension or expulsion for minor misbehavior, limiting these types of consequences altogether, not asking law enforcement to respond when administrators can address behavior problems, and providing training about bias-free policing to school law enforcement.
A separate Justice Department investigation into how the local court system, city, and other agencies are contributing to the funneling of students from schools into the juvenile-justice system is still open.
A version of this article appeared in the April 03, 2013 edition of Education Week as Miss. District Settles Federal Complaint