Thena Robinson-Mock, project director for the Advancement Project, provides an important update to the school discipline crisis in Mississippi in her recent op-ed for The Clarion-Ledger. Two years ago the Advancement Project, the ACLU, and the Mississippi NAACP jointly released a report exposing the state's extreme school-to-prison pipeline, and the discriminatory impact it had in particular on students of color. Unfortunately, Robinson-Mock writes that although some progress has been made, much still needs to be done to solve this problem.
One of the worst districts in the state for school discipline was Meridian, where the the school-to-prison pipeline pushed students out of school by disciplining them for subjective misbehaviors and quickly escalating all consequences for infractions. Since the report, Meridian has made some progress by adopting a consent degree and changing the discipline code to be less subjective. However, students are still being subjected to harsh disciplinary practices that deprive them of a welcoming, positive environment in which to learn.
For instance, in DeSoto County, the Advancement Project worked with a grassroots group of parents to file a complaint last month over the disproportionate suspension of students of color. As Robinson-Mock explains:
"DeSoto County is a vignette of what seems a much larger issue in Mississippi, and the complaint filed by DCPSJ is an important step in ensuring all children in the state are able to reach their educational potential. For too long, Mississippi has allowed vestiges of state-sponsored racial discrimination to haunt its schools. It is time to make the transformative changes necessary to make schools a place where all students are given the opportunity to succeed."
You can read the rest of her op-ed here.