Seattle Public Schools says it will cooperate with a federal investigation into claims it discriminates when it comes disciplining students.

The U.S. Department of Education launched an investigation in May of 2012, to assess whether the district discriminates against African American students by disciplining them more frequently and more harshly than white students, according to an email from spokesperson Jim Bradshaw.

Bernardo Ruiz, Director of Equity and Race Relations for the district admits the numbers are devastating. The number of black students suspended district-wide for the last three years doubles the number of white students suspended in the same period.

Ruiz says the district is already addressing the issue. They believe one solution is to find an alternative to removing kids from school.

Our paramount commitment in Seattle Public Schools is to ensure every child that comes into our care receives a high quality of education, said Ruiz. And in order to do that, they need to be at school.

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