03/25/2013 04:05 pm ET Updated May 25, 2013

Discriminatory discipline: Feds and Mississippi school district reach agreement on changes

By Susan Ferriss

A Mississippi school district under scrutiny for excessive punishment of black students has reached an agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice to enact new disciplinary policies, train school police officers in "bias-free" policing and stop involving officers in minor campus behavioral disputes.

"We commend the Meridian Public School District for taking this huge stop toward ensuring that its schools are safe and welcoming to all students - and that education is a road to success instead of a pipeline to prison," said Jocelyn Samuels, principal deputy assistant attorney general for the department's Civil Right Division.

At a Friday briefing with reporters, Samuels said the division hopes that school districts nationwide will look to the Meridian agreement as a model for addressing complaints of overly harsh and sometimes racially disproportionate discipline. As the Center for Public Integrity reported previously, Meridian, Miss., police told federal investigators that they were functioning as a "taxi service" to ferry students to jail for allegations of defiance and disrespect.

Continue this story and read more investigations at The Center for Public Integrity