Published: Jul 22, 2011 3:55 PM EDT
Updated: Jul 22, 2011 2:55 PM EDT

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) - Researchers have long found differences in how schools and juvenile facilities discipline minority and white students, but inconsistent data collection has made analysis difficult.

An increase in civil rights complaints arising from disciplinary actions has caught the eye of the U.S. Department of Education. Currently, eight of the agency's 13 civil rights investigations on discipline are in Southern states. Some investigations are based on formal complaints, but others are initiated by the department to determine if a district is complying with civil rights law.

Experts say that racial disparities in discipline occur across the country. But without consistent data - such as information on the violation, the school's response and the race of the student - it's often difficult to describe the patterns.

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