Racial justice groups seek disciplinary reform in DeSoto Co.

HERNANDO, Miss. (AP) – A coalition of racial justice groups, including one involved in a civil-rights complaint against DeSoto County schools, is calling for “decisive action” to end what it calls persistent racial disparities in student discipline.

The Commercial Appeal reports the groups issued the call this week following the release of new data by the Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights. The data finds that African-American students are nearly four times as likely to be suspended as white students.

Education Secretary John King said the findings, released Tuesday, show a “systemic failure” to provide equal education to all students.

The school system, Mississippi’s largest with more than 33,000 students, denies the charges. It says its policy is designed to provide student safety and is applied equally.