School districts in Dallas County, Texas, are reacting to a complaint filed with the U.S. Justice Department alleging that the truancy court system unnecessarily funnels student absences into the criminal system and violates student rights as those cases work their way through the courts.
Statement from the Dallas district:
"The Dallas Independent School District takes issues related to student attendance very seriously as we believe student attendance is essential to academic success. Dallas ISD adheres to all attendance policies set by the state and cooperates closely with the Office of Civil Rights. We will continue to ensure that all students are treated equitably."
Statement from the Mesquite district:
"Regular school attendance is essential for students to make the most of their education. Expectations for attendance and information about the state laws requiring attendance are provided to students and parents at the beginning of each school year through the Mesquite ISD Student Handbook, which is available in English and Spanish. Mesquite ISD believes its policies and practices regarding truancy are in full compliance with the law."
Statement from the Richardson district:
"Richardson ISD works proactively to educate students and parents about attendance expectations and truancy. The district also works to offer all students a variety of engaging school activities in order to prevent truancy and dropouts. Students are required by Texas law to attend school, which is important to maximize their educational opportunities. When truancy situations do occur, (the district) follows Texas law. (The district) will evaluate the complaint and cooperate with the Office of Civil Rights."