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Alabama’s Mobile County public schools continue to violate student rights


More than a year ago, the Southern Poverty Law Center described in a federal lawsuit how students inAlabama’s Mobile County public schools are suspended for minor infractions for months at a time without the constitutionally required notice and hearing.


Apparent misbehavior such as failing to carry a school ID – or even an untucked shirt – resulted in suspensions that pushed students out of class and onto the streets until the end of the semester, or longer. Parents and guardians weren’t provided an opportunity to challenge the lengthy suspensions.
Sadly, nothing has really changed in Mobile County public schools. While the school district responded to the SPLC’s lawsuit by adopting a new policy, its leadership has done little to ensure the new policy is followed. As a result, administrators across the school district continue to violate the constitutional rights of students by meting out lengthy suspensions without giving the required notice and hearing.
The SPLC describes how the school district officials continue to turn a blind eye to this problem in an amended complaint recently filed in its federal civil rights lawsuit against the Mobile County Public School System.
“A year after we filed our case, we’re still seeing school administrators targeting struggling kids and kicking them out of school for minor infractions without proper notice or a hearing,” said Marion Chartoff, a senior staff attorney with the SPLC. “Top district officials know that school administrators are violating the district’s policy, but few seem to care. It’s extremely disappointing that the district’s leadership has not put a stop to this.”
The amended complaint, filed on behalf of eight students, describes how Mobile school administrators routinely impose long-term suspensions without providing proper notice to the child’s parent or guardian about the grounds for the suspension and the date of a hearing. It also explains a widespread practice of principals failing to hold required due process hearings to give the student and parent an opportunity to challenge the long-term suspension.  MORE

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