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Alabama Town In Trouble; Schools Discriminate Against Black Kids

By Victor Trammell

The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed a complaint against a public school district in Alabama for disproportionately practicing discriminatory disciplinary procedures against black school children.

The recent complaint filed by the SPLC comes a week after Alabama’s Dothan City Board of Education changed its disciplinary policy again. Many critics believe that the Dothan City school board’s revising of its controversial disciplinary policy was done reactively instead of proactively.

Apparently, the SPLC has been observing the systematic racism affecting minority school children in this Alabama school district for quite some time.

“Dothan’s most vulnerable children are being systematically railroaded and written off because of racially discriminatory practices that often treat normal adolescent behavior like criminal activity,” said Natalie Lyons, SPLC staff attorney in a statement.

“We worked with the school district and were disappointed that the district did not adopt all of the necessary reforms to ensure that children of color and those with disabilities are treated fairly,” Lyons continued.

The Dothan City school board has made alterations to its student disciplinary procedures in the past. However, the SPLC has stated that those alterations were too vague and gave school administrators the power to subjectively suspend or expel students for offenses that were not necessarily severe.

The SPLC’s website recently published a report outlining the main focuses of its complaint against the Dothan City school board. A portion of this SPLC online report reads as follows:

The complaint cites statistics the SPLC presented to the school board in June. It notes African-American students represent approximately 55 percent of the district’s students but 100 percent of expulsions in 2015-16 and 85 percent or more of the students removed from class through practices such as suspension, in-school suspension, and referral to alternative school. Disciplinary actions against students with disabilities have more than doubled since the 2013-14 school year. (

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