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Mississippi School District Changes Policies over Complaints of Segregation
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On Friday, the Meridian Public School District, Mississippi and the U.S. Department of Justice filed a proposed order in the federal court of Southern District of Mississippi to settle allegations of segregation. Local residents and civil lawyers had alleged in 2010 that in the school district, black students ran a higher risk of being suspended than whites for similar code violations.

The proposed order prohibits the school district from using suspensions for minor misbehaviors like dress code violations and from involving law enforcement in matters that can be safely handled by the schools themselves.

The order was proposed under provisions of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which empowers the DOJ to act when it finds discrimination happening in schools. In the instant case, it was found that in the Meridian school district, a black student referred out of classroom for misbehavior had a fivefold greater chance of facing out-of-school suspension than a white student in the same scenario.

  
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The move reaffirms the commitment of the DOJ towards taking an aggressive stance to root out racial discrimination from school districts and thwart attempts of racially inclined people from imprinting their biases on young minds.

Speaking on the Meridian school district’s inequitable application of disciplinary measures on students, Jocelyn Samuels, a senior official in the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ said, “This is one of the ways in which, unfortunately, segregation continues in our nation’s schools today, when African-American children are disproportionately excluded from instruction.

In 2011, Meridian hired a new school superintendent, after collected data showed huge gaps between the treatments of white and black students when it came to disciplining them.

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Even when students did not violate state laws, the school used to routinely call in the police for handling black students more than they did in cases of white students.

The lawsuit also said that the City police basically acted as a taxi service between a particular juvenile detention center and schools, and the children were denied access to lawyers at the detention center.



However, many local and City officials have banded together and have asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit. They hold the violations proved on data never happened, that police policy has changed already following the allegations, and that other allegations involving the business of school-police-detention center – black spots on careers of black students, are baseless allegations.



 

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