More Texas students being prosecuted for truancy - KFDA - NewsChannel 10 / Amarillo News, Weather, Sports

More Texas students being prosecuted for truancy

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Texas - Hundreds of thousands of students across Texas are being prosecuted for truancy.

The purpose of the so-called truancy courts in Texas is to keep kids in class, but advocates say it's unfair to criminalize truancy.

That's why three advocacy groups recently filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department.

Texas law requires schools to report students when they have 10 or more unexcused absences within a six month period.

Students ticketed for truancy face a class C misdemeanor charge.

In court, they may be ordered to comply with programs to improve their attendance as a condition of their case being dismissed.

If students don't pay fines, they face trial, more court fees and even jail time.

Advocates say the truancy policy is unfairly penalizing students who have disabilities, don't speak English well, or are pregnant.

In response, school officials argue that the truancy program has been successful at reducing dropouts and that administrators work hard to accommodate students with special needs.

Last year Texas prosecuted more than double the number of truancy cases in all other states combined, at 113,000.

The state collected around $2.9 million in fines.

That sum covers about half of the courts operating costs.

Advocacy groups say the courts are too dependent on the judges' fines.