Black children in five Florida school districts are suspended from school, arrested at school or given other punishments at a higher rate than other students, according to a federal civil rights complaint filed on Tuesday.
The Southern Poverty Law Center said the complaint, filed with the Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights, was based on a year-long study of disciplinary actions taken by Florida School Districts.
"Many Florida School districts criminalize children for the most-minor, nonviolent infractions such as dress code violations and cell phone infractions that result in lengthy out-of-school suspensions, corporal punishment, school arrests and expulsions for children as young as eight and nine years old," Stephanie Langer, an attorney for the center, said at a news conference. "African-American children across the nation and in the state of Florida are subjected to these unforgiving disciplinary measures at alarmingly higher rates than their white counterparts."
Langer said the Bay, Escambia, Flagler, Okaloosa and Suwanee county school districts were found to be the worst offenders.