Students as young as 12 in the Dallas area are being charged with misdemeanors and sent to Texas's adult courts when they skip school, reports the Washington Post. The harsh truancy practices are the subject of a complaint advocates plan to file with the Justice Department's civil rights division Wednesday. The complaint — from three public interest law centers against four Dallas area school districts and Dallas County's truancy courts — alleges that students have been denied constitutional rights, handcuffed and fined in a court system that does not appoint legal representatives or provide the confidentiality protections of juvenile court.
Texas sends 113,000 students, ages 12 to 17, to courts for truancy violations each year, more than twice as many students as in the other 49 states combined, according to lawyers filing the complaint. The complaint said Dallas County truancy courts prosecuted more than 36,000 truancy cases last fiscal year. An advocate characterized the Dallas area as the most aggressive jurisdiction against truancy in the most aggressive state.