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Friday, June 21, 2013

(Prosecuted in Adult Criminal Court for offenses as Benign as Arriving Late For Class.)

NJJN Member Files Federal Complaint on Behalf of Youth in Dallas School System Three legal advocacy organizations, including NJJN member Texas Appleseed and NJJN partner, the National Center for Youth Law, have filed a civil rights complaint with the Department of Justice on behalf of students in the Dallas County school system. According to Pat Arthur, a youth justice strategist working with Texas Appleseed, students as young as 12 are being prosecuted in adult criminal court for offenses as benign as arriving late for class. And while the offenses may be minor, the consequences, says Arthur, are often huge. Youth in these cases suffer all the consequences of a criminal conviction, including being disadvantaged or barred from employment or getting loans, or joining the military. They've been handcuffed in classrooms and brought to truancy court. It's truly a travesty. These cases, says Arthur, frequently and disproportionately target poor students, students of color, and students with disabilities. It's truly a barbaric system of punishing kids for doing what we all did as kids skipping school or being late, Arthur said. And it's totally ineffective. It's contrary to all the best practices that we know about how to address truancy. I've never seen anything so outrageously wrongheaded. The complaint requests that the truancy system be revised to incorporate a flexible, transparent tardiness policy, greater accommodations for students with disabilities, and school-wide behavioral interventions and supports. schools? National Juvenile Justice Network | 1319 F St. NW | Suite 402 | Washington | DC | 20004

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