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Government/Politics

Legislation That Would De-criminalize Playing Hooky Makes Its Way Out Of The Texas Senate

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Ryan E. Poppe
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After some heated debate and some changes, a bill that reforms how school districts can respond to children repeatedly missing class passed in the Texas Senate. 

At the start of the session during his State of Judiciary address, Texas Supreme Court Justice Nathan Hecht told lawmakers that reforming truancy laws was one of the most important issues facing them this session.  And the bill’s author, Houston Democratic Sen. John Whitmire tends to agree.

“If you stop and think, over a hundred thousand students last year were given a criminal citation and I can cite specific examples. Mother raising her child by herself, transmission breaks so she can’t take him to school for a few days, she gets a ticket, the young man gets a ticket. So I can cite several examples where, hardship is being criminalized," Whitmire said.

The Freshman Republican from Plano, Sen. Van Taylor believes the bill goes too far in telling school districts how to handle truancy cases.

How would the bill affect Bexar County and the San Antonio school districts? Democratic Sen. Carlos Uresti says it wouldn’t, because of a law passed during the last session.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
San Antonio Democratic Sen. Carlos Uresti

“Bexar County made the right two years ago and now our kids are not being charged with a Class C misdemeanor, which is a crime and instead they are being referred to different case managers and truancy court," Uresti explained.

Uresti says the bill was necessary for other parts of the states that haven’t de-criminalized their truancy system. It passed on a vote of 26 to 5 and now heads over to the House for consideration.