Texas Matters: Is Texas Too Tough On Truancy?
A new report from Texas Appleseed, Class, Not Court: Reconsidering Texas' Criminalization of Truancy, found that Texas filed approximately 115,000 truancy cases in 2013 - more than twice the number of truancy cases in all other states combined.
Four in five children sent to court for truancy were found to be economically disadvantaged, meaning they are eligible for free and reduced lunch, and are least able to afford steep fines typically levied in response to truancy charges. Failure to pay fines, which can run as high as $500 and can result in an arrest warrant.
Texas Appleseed is calling on policymakers and school districts to act quickly to decriminalize truancy and enact a system of prevention and intervention so students with multiple unexcused absences don't routinely end up in court. Morgan Craven is an attorney for Texas Appleseed.
The current, court-centered approach to addressing truancy is not working. Court intervention, particularly for children who have had no previous experience with the criminal justice system, increases the likelihood that they will drop out and enter the school-to-prison pipeline. - Deborah Fowler, executive director of Texas Appleseed