Advocacy Group: Stop Charging Truant Students in Adult Court
"Texas currently prosecutes more than twice the number of truancy cases prosecuted in all other states combined," with cases filed in adult criminal courts -- uncommon among other states -- according to a report released Thursday by the nonprofit advocacy group Texas Appleseed. More than 115,000 students were charged with truancy in adult court in 2013.
The Houston Independent School District, with an enrollment of 203,354, filed 20,715 truancy criminal cases against students and/or their parents in the 2012-2013 school year -- the third-highest rate in the state, according to the report. (San Antonio and Dallas ranked first and second, respectively.)
The report measured several types of truancy charges that school districts can utilize, including Failure to Attend School (FTAS) and Parent Contributing to Non-Attendance (PCN), both class C misdemeanors. (Districts can charge a parent or parents in addition to their child if they choose.)
Economically disadvantaged students and parents were charged at a much higher rate than their counterparts, according to the report: For the 2013-2014 school year, 79.4 percent of all FTAS cases filed were against economically disadvantaged kids. Nearly 85 percent of all parents charged that year were from the same demographic.
"Truancy should no longer be adjudicated in a crime in the adult criminal courts," the report recommends. The group recommended treating truancy as "Children in Need of Supervision" offenses, adjudicated in juvenile court.
If you want to get really depressed, check out the rest of the report's recommendations and startling stats for yourself.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss Houston Press' biggest stories.