Texas wants to stop punishing students for minor offenses
Posted By Law Offices of Jeffrey C. Grass || 15-Mar-2013
The Chief Justice of Texas wants the state to reform their school disciplinary system, stating that too many students are being punished for misbehaving and end up in the juvenile justice system due to minor offenses.
Roughly 60 percent of junior high and high school students in Texas are suspended or expelled due to misbehaviors and minor offenses. What's worse is that half of these students end up in the state's juvenile justice system after being suspended or expelled from school. Reports show that 97 percent of these students are disciplined for only minor offenses, like violating the school's dress code or being tardy to class.
Texas reports that over 275,000 non-traffic tickets are given to students every year, some even in elementary school. Most of these tickets are issued for very minor offenses, like wearing too much perfume or violating a different school code. Unfortunately, these tickets result in a misdemeanor charge on the student's record and often lead to them being suspended or expelled from school if they receive further citations.
This is why the Chief Justice wants schools to reform their disciplinary practices because the current system is labeling minor offenses as misdemeanors and sending many students to court, making them more likely to be sent to juvenile justice facilities.
To address the ways the school disciplinary system should be reformed, Texas lawmakers have proposed a few bills to change current disciplinary rules. One bill would replace tickets with "progressive sanctions" for student offenses that are now defined as misdemeanors. The sanctions would include warning letters, possible counseling and community service.
Another bill would allow juveniles with nonviolent offenses on their records to pay their court costs through community service. A third bill would increase confidentiality for juveniles who had misdemeanor convictions dismissed.
Supporters of these bills hope that they will be passed so Texas can reform their school disciplinary system to keep students from being charged with minor offenses and prevent them from being introduced to the criminal system at a young age.
Source: Think Progress, "Texas Chief Justice: Stop 'Over-Criminalizing' Misbehaving Students," Aviva Shen, March 7, 2013
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Categories: Juvenile Crimes