January 23, 2013

Extreme discipline targets minority school kids

Mississippi NAACP - Civil rights groups released a report claiming that harsh punishments at schools across Mississippi have led to a disproportionate number of minority students being suspended, expelled, and jailed for minor infractions.

The report released by the ACLU, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People and other groups, finds children have been harshly punished for violating school dress codes and other similar behaviors.

It also claims black students are affected by harsh discipline procedures at a much greater rate than white students, and cites a study of more than a hundred Mississippi school districts that finds for every one white student who is given an out-of-school suspension, three black students are suspended, even though black students comprise just half of the student population.

The report details several specific examples including:

· Students playfully throwing peanuts at one another on a school bus ended in five black male high school students being arrested for felony assault after one of the peanuts hit the white female bus driver.

· A five-year-old boy taken from his school by police and transported to his home for violating the school dress code, which requires black shoes. His mother had used a black marker to cover red and white decorations on the shoes, but some of the decorations could be seen.

· A student who was sent to a juvenile detention center for wearing the wrong color socks, considered to be a probation violation from a previous fight.

The report follows a lawsuit filed in October by the US Department of Justice, which accuses officials in Meridian, Mississippi, including two youth-court judges, of operating a “school-to-prison pipeline” that pushes children out of school and into the criminal justice system.

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