Meridian Schools Working on Discipline Issues | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Meridian Schools Working on Discipline Issues

MERIDIAN, Miss. (AP) — The Meridian School Board is rewriting the school's system discipline policies to end what the Justice Department called discriminatory disciplinary practices in which black students face harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.

Schools Superintendent Alvin Taylor tells WTOK-TV in Meridian that he can't release details until the plan is approved by the Department of Justice.

Taylor said the board is making sure the district complies with the requirements of the federal consent decree signed in May.

"Mainly things like not giving exclusionary discipline, which means removing the student from the classroom or the school for minor infractions," said Taylor.

"Also, when we do have to give them exclusionary discipline practices that we have documented that we have tried to do interventions for the students to try to correct their behavior, unless it's a serious offense."

Taylor said board members will vote on the policies at their July meeting.

The school district has until the end of the 2016-17 school year to fully comply with the consent order.

A lengthy federal investigation that found that black public school students there are five times more likely than whites to be suspended from classes and often got longer suspensions for comparable misbehavior.

The consent decree is separate from a Justice Department lawsuit that alleges that there was a "school-to-prison pipeline" in Meridian that locked up students for minor infractions like flatulence or wearing the wrong color socks.

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