Education

Colorado May Be About to Decriminalize Truancy

Will other states follow its lead?

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Denver's CBS affiliate reports:

Lulu's goin' to JAIL!
John Stanley

Sen. Chris Holbert, R-Parker, is introducing legislation aimed at decriminalizing truancy. Currently, when children cut classes a school can send them to court where they are ordered back to school. When they don't go they're found in contempt of court and ordered to jail.

While it's not tracked statewide, in some districts child advocates say more than 50 students a week are being referred to court….

"That should not happen," Holbert said. "Sending kids to jail—juvenile detention—for nothing more than truancy just didn't make sense. When a student is referred to juvenile detention, he or she is co-mingling with criminals—juveniles who've committed theft or assault or drug dealing."

The bill's counterpart in the state House is sponsored by Rep. Rhonda Fields, a Democrat, so this is a bipartisan measure. I can't link to the actual text of the legislation yet—Holbert tells me it's still being drafted—but whatever the details might be, the basic idea here is a good one.

The criminalization of truancy came out of the same policy moment whose harsh zero-tolerance policies have often pushed what once were ordinary school-discipline problems into the courts. (The same drive led to many more suspensions and explusions, truancy apparently being acceptable when the authorities have ordered it.) Colorado isn't the only state likely to tackle this issue in the near future: Texas, which hasn't just criminalized truancy but prosecutes it in adult courts, will probably consider a decriminalization bill in the spring. The Texas legislature passed a similar measure in 2013, but it was vetoed by Gov. Rick Perry.

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  1. but how will we force indoctrination?

    1. Through Facebook and other social media. What, you thought those were private institutions?

  2. “When a student is referred to juvenile detention, he or she is co-mingling with criminals?juveniles who’ve committed theft or assault or drug dealing.”

    Good point. Maybe next you can decriminalize distribution so that kids who deal drugs aren’t co-mingling with juveniles who have committed assault.

    1. Then we can decriminalize assault, so the thugs aren’t co-mingling with the thieves.

      1. Assault and theft are violations of a person’s rights. Selling them products isn’t.

      2. You’re a fucking idiot.

  3. “That should not happen,” Holbert said. “Sending kids to jail?juvenile detention?for nothing more than truancy just didn’t make sense. When a student is referred to juvenile detention, he or she is co-mingling with criminals?juveniles who’ve committed theft or assault or drug dealing.”

    Wow, it *is* a natural law. Everything the state does to prevent you from doing something ‘for your own good’ has worse consequences than the thing they seek to prevent.

  4. But how will we keep kids in their starter prisons, then? Is Colorado one of the states that sends parents to jail if their kids miss enough days?

  5. Currently, when children cut classes a school can send them to court where they are ordered back to school. When they don’t go they’re found in contempt of court and ordered to jail.

    What is it about “You’re a ward of the State” don’t you understand?

  6. “(The same drive led to many more suspensions and explusions, truancy apparently being acceptable when the authorities have ordered it.)”

    Wow, I bet you were real smug when you posted that gotcha that’s not a gotcha.

    1. But it is a gotcha.

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  9. Why force them to go to school, they’re not being taught anything anyway.

  10. I’d just like to know why Colorado doesn’t have a provision for chronic illness, such as migraines, included in the truancy laws. The only other option my girls have been given is online school, full time. Which contributes to becoming more isolated & interferes with their social development. Also, being on the computer for that much time every day is also a huge migraine trigger & we’ve been specifically warned by our neurologists to NOT do so. Then there are short term illnesses, like mono. Did you know, Colorado Springs School District 11 does NOT allow kids to stay home if they have mono, which is one of the most contagious illnesses around. And a certain assistant principal, as well as the district’s lawyer, DEMANDED that my 12 yr old & I both be put in jail, where I was denied access to my medication. Simply because I refused to force her to go to school while she was sick & when I asked if they had a tutoring option to help, I was told no. (They do, it’s called Homebound) I agree that kids need to be in school. And that some need more tangible incentives to not ditch. But this law seriously needs to be rewritten & the “authorities” need to pull those sticks out of their asses & start treating people with compassion, instead of like child abusers, neglectful parents or common punk criminals.

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