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truancy

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

Dallas school and county leaders have unveiled truancy reforms aimed at keeping more kids in class.

Schools, Courts Worry About New Texas Truancy Law

Jul 13, 2015
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GARLAND — On a summer day when she could be just about anywhere else, 15-year-old Brooke Swartz stands next to her mom in cheeky Bart Simpson Converse high-tops, facing a judge.

For two decades, Texas has treated truancy as a criminal offense. That means most cases were prosecuted in adult courts where children, along with their parents, faced jail and fines of up to $1,500 for missing school — usually 10 or more unexcused absences.

Texas lawmakers now say this policy went too far. So last week, Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, signed a law that no longer treats truancy as a Class C misdemeanor.

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A civil rights investigation targets whether Dallas County has been too tough on students who skip school and sometimes end up handcuffed and in court.

A senior attorney at the National Center for Youth Law says "Dallas is, by far, the most aggressive in the state of Texas, and Texas is way more aggressive than any other state". The group joined 'Texas Appleseed' and 'Disability Rights Texas' in filing the complaint.