Sunday, June 2, 2013
Meridian, Mississippi School District enters consent decree to prevent racial discrimination in student discipline
The U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi approved a consent decree on May 30, between the Justice Department, together with private plaintiffs, and the Meridian Public School District in Meridian, Miss., to address racial discrimination in student discipline. The consent decree, the DOJ said in a public statement, "is a far-reaching plan to reform discipline practices, including suspensions, expulsions and school-based arrests that unlawfully channel black students out of their classrooms and, too often, into the criminal justice system." The consent decree is part of the DOJ's Civil Rights Division's efforts to eliminate the school-to-prison pipeline exacerbated by zero tolerance policies for school infractions. In a 2012 speech, Assistant Attorney General Thomas E. Perez discussed Meridian's school discipline practices after listening to students who had been suspended for uniform violations or arrested for talking back in class or for schoolyard fights. Half of the students on the panel, he noted, were wearing jail ankle bracelets. To read more about the consent decree, click here.