Department of Justice, SPLC Investigating Meridian Public Schools

Parents, students, and area residents were allowed the opportunity to voice concerns they have with the Meridian Public School District during a meeting held at EMEPA on Monday night.

"My daughter was too afraid to tell me the teacher choked her," one mother said. "But eventually she did."

"My question is why is that we're not able to contact the district superintendent," one father stated. "Who is never in. He's never going to answer the phone."

It is concerns like these and concerns over the way the Meridian Public School District chooses to punish its students that have led several agencies to investigate the district.

"So unfortunately, the severity of the crisis in the school discipline policies and practices here in Meridian have led to the Department of Justice's further investigation," SPLC attorney Shakti Belway told the audience. "They have prompted us at the Southern Poverty Law Center to investigate."

NAACP education chairman Randle Jennings says punishments are recommended by school principals and therefore are not consistent across the district. Jennings says he and other officials who organized Monday night's meeting are hoping for a more well-defined discipline plan in Meridian schools.

"Unfortunately, the African-American males have been a target," Jennings says. "We're beginning to see there may be some kind of systemic pattern. And we're just trying to dig into ramifications about what may be going on with our African-American males and what's going on with trying to educate them."

Superintendent Dr. Alvin Taylor would not comment specifically on Monday night's meeting, but released the following statement to Newscenter 11.

"While I cannot comment directly on the meeting being held tonight as I was made aware of it through the media, I can say that the Department of Justice will be conducting interviews with the Meridian Public School District administration and touring our schools this week," Taylor says. "I am pleased that they will be able to come into our schools to learn more about our district's policies and procedures and to see firsthand what is taking place in the Meridian Public Schools this year."

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  • by former student Location: meridian on Mar 29, 2012 at 05:20 AM
    I attended MPSD in the late 90's and early 00's. I received a decent education that allowed me to pass college (I have a 6 yr degree). When I was in school, the problem kids were the kids who didn't have parents at home, while the ones of us who had parents who cared and parents who were involved had no problem getting the grades we needed, to maintain the GPA we needed, to be successful...and stayed out of trouble at the same time...imagine that!! I can bet that most of the people complaining about unfair discipline, etc, are the ones who also want a "handout" as opposed to earning what they want. Color/Race/Gender has nothing to do with it. If more people in this town would stop whining and waiting for someone to hand them things, and get a job and tend to their own business, maybe the kids in MPSD could have a decent school life too. The kids I do know at MPSD have no problems other than smart teenage mouths...but that's to be expected with most kids. Granted, there are some teachers whos lack of skills could be better used for digging ditches, but those are few and far between... MPSD teachers give up a LOT to make sure students have a quality education and they deserve an applause. Thank you teachers and for what you do... and to the select administration who know hwo to do your job well too.
    • reply
      by handout on Apr 1, 2012 at 01:42 PM in reply to former student
      i am really sick and tired of the word. if you want to stop handout then; dont help us vets,senior citizens,disabled,unemployed,habitat for humanity,unitedway,redcross......... yes we thank those with the calling to teach,but there are many who are burned out and lost their fire. because they have to fight with the admin,fight parents, fight student,fight systems and guess who get the attitudes; the kids because no one is willing to just listen to their concerns. even those kids that make it through experience the abuse of teachers who for some reason or another didnt like their attitudes and set out to make their life at school hell. just take it out on the kids!they are always the problem with their parents right?
  • by Praying for MPSD on Mar 27, 2012 at 09:02 PM
    First and foremost Lord we need you back in the schools but there are some who oppose this! I remember when I attended school in this district yes, we had issues fights drug bullys and many more but one things that has changed are that the power have been taken out of the teacher hands and place into the children they hollar then all _____ breaks student should be mistreated but if you want respect they must first have respect for themselves.. I would challenge any parent of the 25-30 students parents per class to come in and have a full day without any teacher or assistant and then we shall see....if we can't contact some of you when needed who will show up...PTC can't get a full turnout but Ray Stadium can have a packed house! No child is perfect so never expect it, you were once a child too! Children amaze me how dramatic they can be.. need to be a Acting school! My mother stayed a call away she was very in to what i did in school as well as after.. I have kept this with mi kids they never know when I'm Coming!!! Yes every story has two sides but if you are around and involved with you kids you should know when its serious! How about all the schools and c/o meet with parents at Ray Stadium and talk on this this will not happen!!
  • by sarah Location: meridian on Mar 27, 2012 at 08:22 PM
    i went to the mps back in the 60's and 70's my three children went and finished through the 12th the problem today is the students do not have any respect for their elderly they seem to know everything and i still believe that it all falls back on the parents parents don't know what their children do or where they are when not in school they don't have certain times to be home during the week they just cannot control what is going on with their children i think children need to be thinking about doing their homework and paying attention in class so they can go to college and make a career for themselves
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Apr 10, 2012 at 06:54 PM in reply to sarah
      In the 60's and 70's MPSD was segregated.....
  • by M.Davis Location: Meridian on Mar 27, 2012 at 02:32 PM
    I don't see how anyone black or white can make a comment on her unless you are personally involved in the situation.There is to much racism on here and in Meridian and will never stop unless we all work together.So sick of the whites talking down on the blacks and blacks talking down on the whites.Nothing will ever work in our schools, on jobs, in our neighborhoods unless all this nonsense stop. Don't have anything positive to say then keep your mouth shut,world has enough problems with the add ons of stereotyping and racism. By the way I'm a black female who has friends both black and white.No discrimination here.Praying for this world and especially this city.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Mar 27, 2012 at 04:26 PM in reply to M.Davis
      Great comment.
      • reply
        by good job on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:55 PM in reply to
        i think you got it
  • by Shelly Location: Meridian on Mar 27, 2012 at 01:54 PM
    The color of the student is beside the point, if a student is acting up, then they should be punished. If a teacher has gotten to the point that they have to "choke" a student, then call the police not the principal or superintendent. Many of the kids these days have no one at home to discipline so when they get to school it's the only place they have rules. The public school system is not responsible for raising kids, we need these parents to stop giving birth to children they have no intention of actually raising!!!!!
    • reply
      by punish? on Mar 28, 2012 at 10:58 PM in reply to Shelly
      is that what school is for punishment.i heard they did get the police and they wouldnt even investigate it. why?
    • reply
      by Parent on Apr 4, 2012 at 10:05 PM in reply to Shelly
      Have to get to the point of choking a student???? Are you even listening to yourself?
  • by Teacher on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:37 AM
    There are problems with discipoine in the schools and they are not handled the same from school to school nor from one administrator to the next. There are academic problems as well. Childern are dropping out because they cannot pass the state test. Yes they are difficult, even for the best student. Over 300 chldren were removed from SAPT classes because they did not score advanced or proficient on a nine weeks test, even though many of them were passing the course work..Something has to be done if change is going to take place. The district is not concerned about the welfare of the children, its the DATA!!!!!!!!!
  • by Old Guy Location: Meridian on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:35 AM
    I don't have kids in MPS anymore but my taxes help pay for this mess. I'm not saying this applies to all parent(s) or kids because you know if it applies to you. Before you start complaining, honestly ask yourself if since the schools have kids 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week, 9 months a year and you are responsible for them 24-7 all year, who's really responsible for their behavior in school or anywhere? If you don't pay attention to your child until there's a problem, look in the mirror if you want to blame someone.
  • by michael on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:07 AM
    Please don't judge any of these children...they have been abused, they are hurting..their parents are doing their BEST......if you have children and you are judging.....(God) is going to get you!you know you know better!!!!!!! why are you being so stupid!!......just shut up!! and let God deal with this SCHOOL BOARD!
  • by parent Location: meridian on Mar 27, 2012 at 10:17 AM
    haters are motivators!!!!!
    • reply
      by Yeah....right on Mar 27, 2012 at 12:07 PM in reply to parent
      Who is hating and what is he/she hating on? IGNORANCE
  • by KIM JONES on Mar 27, 2012 at 10:12 AM
    It is strange to me that all these bold comments from these people are ALL "anonymous". they seem to have something to say...but they can not stand behind what the say. so that tells me that they are no better than the teacher and the principals that they are defending. Fact: If you have not been in anyone of these parents or childrens shoes...then hush your mouth and just LIVE a LITTLE longer! because God will get to you and your children soon enough.
    • reply
      by a parent on Mar 27, 2012 at 11:09 AM in reply to KIM JONES
      Well Said....
    • reply
      by WHAT on Mar 27, 2012 at 12:02 PM in reply to KIM JONES
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