Texas is only one of two states in the union that introduced truancy courts to combat repeated absences from school.
Truancy or intentionally missing school is a problem all over the country. Eleven years ago Texas strengthened laws to crack down on this problem, and these new laws have produced mixed results.
The national center for youth law says that more than 113,000 truancy cases are filed in Texas yearly. These cases begin when a school complains that a student is repeatedly missing school, and the case is referred to a truancy court.
Students in Texas if they miss more than 10 days of school, or parts of days that add up to 10 in a six month period, they are sent to truancy court.
Some parents say this practice is unfair, as it had led to enormous fines, and if they donâ??t comply with the court ordered requirements, such as community service they could end up in jail. I spoke with a parent who believes her son fell through the cracks, and that what happened to him is entirely unfair.
â??If my son wouldâ??ve been 17, he still would have been 16 that fine would have been on me and if I wouldnâ??t have paid the fine, then I would have went to jailâ??, said Vonda Grantham, the parent of Truant student. â??My relativeâ??s son was 15 and he had a lot of truancies and her fines got up there. Of course, she wasnâ??t able to pay them, as sheâ??s a single mother. You know at least I have a husband to help, she didnâ??t have nobody to help her, so itâ??s either bills or pay that. Well a warrant went out and they picked her up.â??
Critics claim that the truancy courts have become an important revenue generator for schools and that they have not discouraged students from skipping school. Ms. Stravato, a political science instructor from WT, thinks that the way the program is being run poses serious ethical dilemmas.
â??Where it used to be you might get sent to the principalâ??s office, youâ??re now sent to jail. Something is wrong with our society,â?? said Ms. Stravato.
Judge Nancy Bosquez, an administrator of a local truancy court says that while she sympathizes with parents, she is carrying out the requirements as the law is written.