African-American students in five Florida districts are suspended from school and otherwise disciplined more harshly and more frequently than white students, according to complaints The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed this week with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights.
Several districts in the Kansas City metropolitan area also report high rates of suspensions for black students, as we reported yesterday. According to a recently released study by The Civil Rights Project, Missouri has the second-highest rate of suspensions for African-American students in the nation.
But so far no one has filed a racial discrimination complaint on their behalf.
“Local school districts and state officials must make reforms that improve the effectiveness of school disciplinary policies without forcing children out of the classroom,” said Tania Galloni, managing attorney of the SPLC’s Florida office. “School discipline should never deprive a child of an education, but that is happening in these school districts. What was once considered minor misconduct has become an opportunity to punish or even criminalize a student’s behavior.”
The Southern Poverty Law Center is a national civil rights organization that has won a number of legal victories against hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan and provides education on racial and religious tolerance.
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