Texas Appleseed Accuses Dallas County Schools, Truancy Courts of Student Rights Violations in Complaint to Justice Department
Texas Appleseed, Disability Rights Texas, and the National Center for Youth Law filed a complaint today (6.12.2013) with the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that Dallas County's four school districts and truancy courts are violating the rights of students prosecuted for Failure to Attend School.
Prosecuting truancy as a crime violates students’ Eighth Amendment constitutional rights, the complaint states. The three law centers allege that Dallas, Mesquite, Garland, and Richardson school districts are employing “inconsistent and inflexible” attendance policies and practices that violate the civil rights of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency. Dallas ISD is also alleged to violate the civil rights of pregnant students in truancy proceedings.
Texas is one of only two states that prosecutes truancy in adult court. Texas prosecuted about 113,000 truancy cases against Texas children ages 12-17 in FY 2012—more than doublethe number of truancy cases prosecuted in all other states combined.
Last year alone, Dallas County truancy courts prosecuted over 36,000 truancy cases—more than any other Texas county--and in FY 2012, collected $2.9 million in fines from students and parents.