AUSTIN (AP) – Advocacy groups have filed a complaint with the U.S. Justice Department alleging Dallas-area public schools are too harsh in their truancy rules.
They say students are subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being handcuffed in class, sent to special adult courts and assessed stiff fines for skipping school.
The complaint, filed Tuesday with the department’s Civil Rights Division on behalf of seven Dallas County students, names the county’s truancy courts, along with the Dallas Independent School District. Also named are smaller nearby districts in Garland, Mesquite and Richardson.
It alleges they are using “inconsistent and inflexible” attendance polices that violate the civil rights of students with disabilities and limited English proficiency.
Only Texas and Wyoming prosecute truancy cases in adult courts.
Texas courts prosecuted 113,000 truancy cases against children ages 12 to 17 in fiscal year 2012 — more than double the number of truancy cases prosecuted in all other 49 states combined.
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