Texas Truancy Another Civil v. Criminal Issue
How to deal with kids missing school is usually a civil issue, but not in Texas. As part of a series, Jyoti Thottam of Al Jazeera is reporting that “Texas is one of only two states in the United States that prosecutes truancy as an adult criminal offense — Wyoming is the other — and the volume of cases is staggering: In 2013, Texas had more than twice as many truancy cases as the other 49 states combined. Truancy is also the number one reason children in Texas encounter the criminal justice system. In 2013, more than 67,000 juveniles were referred to juvenile court for crimes other than truancy, ranging from homicide and theft to drug offenses and disorderly conduct. That number was 42 percent fewer than the cases of truancy.”
One reason might be the money. Thottam reports that “… failure to attend school has also become a revenue stream for Texas. In fiscal year 2014, the state assessed fines and court costs of $16.1 million for truancy convictions, even though 79.4 percent of cases that year involved economically disadvantaged students, according to an analysis by the Austin-based social and economic justice advocacy group Texas Appleseed.” There all calls to make the issue a civil offense. Read more.