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Miss. reaches discipline deal with US

JACKSON, Miss. — The US Justice Department said Friday that it has reached a deal with a Mississippi school district to end discriminatory disciplinary practices in which black students face harsher punishment than whites for similar misbehavior.

The agreement comes after a lengthy federal investigation that found that black public school students in Meridian were five times more likely than whites to be suspended from classes and often got longer suspensions for comparable misbehavior.

Jocelyn Samuels, a deputy assistant attorney general, commended the district for its cooperation with the Justice Department and said she hopes the agreement can be a guide to other school districts.

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‘‘Unfortunately, today across the country, students are being pulled off the path to success by harsh disciplinary policies that are excluding students from school for minor disciplinary infractions,’’ she said.