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Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Students in Texas Face Jail Time If They Skip School -- Too Harsh?

Ashley Brown and mom from Texas Went to Court For Skipping School

Students who live in the state of Texas can be fined, required to appear in court, and even sent to jail if they skip school. The crime is being called "truancy" - which literally means "failure to attend".

According to the Dallas Morning News, the origins of this treatment goes back to the mid-1990s, when the Texas State Legislature designated truancy as a Class C misdemeanor, meaning that children could be tried as adults for missing school.

Last year, the state of Texas prosecuted 113,000 truancy cases - collecting nearly $3 million in fines. That sum covers about half of the courts operating costs. And if students don’t pay, they face trial, more court fees, and even jail time.

16-year old Ashley Brown (pictured with her mom) said she had to go to court after her school recorded a suspension as unexcused absences. She apologized to the judge, but says it didn't help much. "They treated me like a stone-cold criminal," she said.

Critics say the law is ridiculous and overly-harsh, and recently, three advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the Justice Department to try to put a stop to the allegedly "cruel and unusual" punishment in several Texas school districts.

Texas and Wisconsin are the only two states who punish students in this way for missing class.

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