AUSTIN (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — House lawmakers are hearing seven bills aimed at easing truancy laws a week after an advocacy group reported that Texas prosecutes twice as many teens for unexcused absences than all other states combined.
The proposals, by Republicans and Democrats, were presented during an hours-long hearing Wednesday by the House Committee on Juvenile Justice and Family Issues.
They seek to address Texas law under which students ages 12 and older are prosecuted for skipping school.
Several advocacy groups said that in addition to being sent to special adult courts, students are also subjected to cruel and unusual punishment by being handcuffed in class and assessed stiff fines for skipping school.
Currently, students with three unexcused absences in four weeks can be ordered to appear in court. Schools must file charges against students with more than 10 unexcused absences in six months.
Texas Appleseed reported last week that 115,000 children were prosecuted for truancy-related misdemeanors in 2013.
Texas and Wyoming prosecute truancy in adult courts.
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