Plan to decriminalize truancy headed for full Texas Senate

AUSTIN (AP) — A Texas Senate panel has approved a bill to decriminalize truancy, advancing it after hearing an endorsement from the state’s Supreme Court chief justice.

Chief Justice Nathan Hecht said he supports the idea since Texas has “a real problem with keeping kids in school.”

The committee later voted unanimously to recommend it to the full Senate.

Houston Democratic Sen. John Whitmire is sponsoring a plan making truancy a misdemeanor punishable by graduated fines for parents starting at $100. Also, schools would be required to designate someone to implement truancy prevention measures.

Under current law, students with three unexcused absences in four weeks — or 10 unexcused absences in six months — could face fines up to $500.

Nearly 100,000 Texas schoolchildren were ticketed for missing school in fiscal year 2014.

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