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Truancy Decriminalization Bill Could Squeak Through Legislature


Texas Observer - For weeks, the Senate and House have been in a schoolyard scrap over which body has the best approach to decriminalizing truancy, raising the prospect of yet another legislative session ending without reform. Though both the Senate and House have passed bills that would treat truancy as a civil matter, Sen. John Whitmire (D-Houston) and Rep. Harold Dutton (D-Houston)—the authors of the competing proposals—are bottling up each other’s bills in the committees they oversee. Still, a last-minute third-way compromise may save the prospects of truancy reform, which has gained broad bipartisan support.

...The compromise, House Bill 1490 by Rep. Dan Huberty (R-Kingwood), takes a slightly different approach to ending criminal truancy than the Whitmire and Dutton bills.

HB 1490 would shift truancy enforcement’s focus from courts to schools, requiring school districts to adopt a three-tiered system of interventions for truant students with escalating consequences, including community service or restorative-justice programs within schools. Whitmire is sponsoring HB 1490 in the Senate, which has a hearing in Senate Criminal Justice Committee Thursday afternoon.

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