According to The Meridian Star, Meridian Public School District (MPSD) Superintendent Alvin Taylor said he started making discipline policy changes almost immediately when he began his job in July 2011, months before the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) started its investigation of allegations of students in trouble with the judicial system being deprived of their constitutional rights. Taylor said although the school district is not a named defendant as part of the lawsuit, there are still things he cannot discuss about the district’s ongoing talks with DOJ.
MPSD is working on compliance through a DOJ consent decree, which is a result of the investigation. However, Taylor said he couldn’t discuss details of the consent decree and previous policy changes with regard to discipline.
“They looked at the schools. They see as of July 1, 2011 that we’ve made drastic changes in the school system. We have been excluded from the lawsuit and the DOJ is working with us,” Taylor said. “They want to be a part of the changes that we are making. We’re sitting down with them and discussing what direction we’re going to continue going.”
Although he declined to provide specifics, Taylor said there were a lot of changes made. “We’ve changed our discipline policies, our procedures in the district,” Taylor said. “When I got here in the summer of 2011, I made a lot of changes during that period. We basically changed how we did a lot of things – how we handled discipline, how we handled academics, how our administrators handled procedures in their buildings.” “By the time DOJ came in here in November, December last year, they saw all the changes that we had made and they were happy with what we were doing.”
Source: The Meridian Star, 12/9/12, By Terri Ferguson Smith
[Editor's Note: In October 2012, Legal Clips summarized an Associated Press article in the Washington Post, which reported that DOJ had filed a lawsuit against government officials in the city of Meridian and Lauderdale County, Mississippi, accusing them of operating a “school-to-prison pipeline” that locks up students for infractions like flatulence or wearing the wrong color socks, a policy that mainly affects black and disabled students. The suit alleges that the city and county have policies that allow students to be arrested and shipped 80 miles to a juvenile detention center without probable cause or legal representation.]