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Texas schools abusing the criminal justice system -Giving kids Class C misdemeanor charges rather than detention!

Liza Jane 2011/02/08 19:19:31
Via: KVUE News




If you disrupted class or used profanity back in school, you were probably sent to the principal’s office. Today in Texas, more students are being sent to criminal court instead.

Last February a student at Fulmore Middle School says she received a ticket for “disruption of class” after spraying perfume on herself.

“I didn’t do anything wrong,” said 13-year-old Sarah, who was in the sixth grade at the time she was ticketed. “I thought I didn’t smell good and the next thing you know, the whole class complains for no reason.”

Sarah said her teacher took her out of class and told an officer assigned to the school that she was being disruptive. Sarah said that she had been the victim of bullying by some of the same students since the second grade.

The ticket carried the weight of a Class C misdemeanor and called for a $150 fine. Sarah's attorney said the tickets are common in Texas and believes they send the wrong message.

“We’re basically criminalizing school discipline,” said Kady Simkins of Advocacy Inc. “Things that you or I would have been sent to the principal’s office for, a child may receive a ticket for, and they end up in the criminal justice system very, very young.”

Sarah’s mother could not understand why the officer would have written a ticket, since he was not in Sarah’s class when the alleged disruption occurred.

“I think it’s wrong,” said Sarah’s mother, Jennifer. “If you don’t see it, how could you say she disturbed a class?”

Ticketing in Texas has been around for more than two decades. A rise in school violence in Texas in the mid-1990s convinced lawmakers to get tougher on school crime, and it may have, in turn, led to more tickets since.

According to Texas Appleseed, an Austin-based non-profit law foundation, officers wrote more than 275,000 Class C misdemeanor tickets to students in 2009. Some of those students were as young as six.

The majority of the tickets were for bad behavior in school. Police wrote the most in Houston, followed by Dallas, San Antonio, Brownsville and Austin. They came with a fine of $50 to $500, required students and a guardian to appear in municipal court, and could stay on a student’s record in to adulthood.

They could also impact that student’s chances of getting into college. A uniform application now commonly used in Texas asks if they have ever been convicted of a misdemeanor, felony, or other crime. To that, more students must now answer "yes."

“All of the evidence that looks at really 'get tough' measures for kids finds that they are totally counterproductive,” said Texas Appleseed Director Deborah Fowler. “They don’t work, they lead to poor outcomes, and they are a waste of our resources.”

Others disagree. Captain Eric Mendez of AISD police believes the tickets have a place. He would not comment on Sarah’s case, however he did say that times have changed.

“Our officers need to have the same abilities in a school setting as you would out in the community.” Capt. Mendez said. “Just because you’re inside the four walls of a school doesn’t mean that the laws change. An assault is still and assault and possession of marijuana is still possession of marijuana.”

Still, Texas Appleseed would like to see a minimum age for tickets set to 14. There is support within the Capitol for new laws.

“I don’t believe I’d go the ticket route,” said Sen. John Whitmire (D) Houston. “I don’t think we are dealing with criminal justice problems; they are school problems.”

As for Sarah’s case, she will soon go before a jury of six adults. They will decide the punishment for an act her mother believes an educator should have handled.

“I feel like the teacher should have just stopped it right then and there,” said Sarah’s mother, Jennifer. “She could have asked the other students to stop harassing Sarah, asked Sarah to give her the perfume, and just let it go from there.”

Sarah said the whole episode has left her feeling “embarrassed,” as she prepares for her day in court

Read More: http://www.kvue.com/home/Texas-policy-sends-studen...

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  • david 2012/06/02 23:56:18
    david
    +2
    doesnt a school cop have to witness crime to write a ticket
  • freedomgoing 2011/10/18 21:00:43
    freedomgoing
    +2
    this is how the government will take our 2nd ammendment right away. If you have a criminal background you can't own a gun...
  • Liza Jane freedom... 2011/10/18 21:20:31
    Liza Jane
    That has absolutely nothing to do with this article. Troll elsewhere lol.
  • freedom... Liza Jane 2011/10/19 04:05:37
    freedomgoing
    +2
    How does it nt have anything to do with this article? If our young people start getting fined and brought to court for what they are doing at school and for some reason get convicted, when they are of age they will not be able to register for guns. Just like the issue with mental disorders that are being diagnosed for our young people more and more. So yes, this does have something to do with this article.
  • Liza Jane freedom... 2011/10/19 04:31:38
    Liza Jane
    No, it doesn't, because you have to be a felon to have gun access restricted. No one is charging them with felonies, they're charging them with misdemeanors.

    Take your hysteria elsewhere.
  • freedom... Liza Jane 2011/10/19 04:52:54
    freedomgoing
    +2
    It's not hysteria it's an opinion.
  • freedom... freedom... 2011/10/19 04:54:33
    freedomgoing
    +2
    hysteria like you said in one of your comments, "next we'll send them to jail and start hitting them with rocks" Really? lol
  • Liza Jane freedom... 2011/10/19 17:39:35
    Liza Jane
    That's called hyperbole.
  • freedom... Liza Jane 2011/10/26 07:53:54
    freedomgoing
    my point is, just because you don't look at things from a broader perspective doesn't mean someone who has an opinion that you find ridiculous makes that person a troll or hysterical. I realize you are young, but you shouldn't assume things about people when you haven't got a clue. Things have happened in this world and even in the U.S. that many people would have ever believed if you would have asked them years ago. Anyway, calling people names is immature.
  • Carabella 2011/02/09 02:44:13
  • ken 2011/02/09 02:20:18
    ken
    You know, disruptive kids have been ruining it for the few that really want to learn and things have only gotten worse in recent years. Parents have shirked their responsibilities and played the blame game for far too long. It's about time a few of you ( I mean figuratively, not you personally) stood up to the plate. Heck, even the first lady has jumped on the band wagon and blames school lunches and fast food places for childhood obesity and tests for minority failure when it's clearly the fault of the parents. When will Americans get back to the times when everyone took responsibility for their own actions? It's no wonder this country is in such dire straights.
  • Liza Jane ken 2011/02/09 02:26:50
    Liza Jane
    +1
    So you're ok with middle schoolers being given misdemeanor charges for things like spraying perfume in class after being bullied... or no?
  • ken Liza Jane 2011/02/09 02:32:30
    ken
    No, but heck, when is enough enough? Do you have any kids? Don't you think they deserve an education without punks constantly disrupting class? How would you go about containing disruptions so everyone can learn that wants to? Sure, everyone black, white, brown and red, rich, poor or in between has a right to an education. But when is enough enough? That's all I'm saying. When?
  • Tim 2011/02/09 00:16:01
    Tim
    +1
    Typical "throw the baby out with the bath-water", "only in America" stuff: Will you people ever learn that, to use a third cliché, "you can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar"?
  • Liza Jane Tim 2011/02/09 00:17:05
    Liza Jane
    So no real opinion on the substance of the article... you're just here to bitch about cliches?
  • Tim Liza Jane 2011/02/09 00:30:05 (edited)
    Tim
    +2
    I thought my opinion could easily have been inferred from my cliché-ridden comment. Apparently not, so I'll spell it out: treating children like criminals for engaging in nothing worse than "disrupting class", an activity many school children have enjoyed over the millennia, is appalling, ludicrous and abhorrent. More important, however, it is potentially self-defeating because of the risk of actually criminalising the kids through the indignation and distrust of authorities they could quite reasonably feel. As I said, "Only in America" (these days, or perhaps in Germany between around 1932 and 1945, and the Soviet Union and Affiliates from 1917 through to 1989/90!). Lunacy. Save such treatment for those who commit over the top acts of violence; that is, acts that go beyond normal schoolyard argy-bargy.
  • Liza Jane Tim 2011/02/09 00:31:45
    Liza Jane
    +1
    I agree.
  • NarcolepticGoat 2011/02/08 23:07:24 (edited)
    NarcolepticGoat
    +1
    It would be nice if Texas had *some* adult supervision.



    Perfume? Really?
  • Tithead 2011/02/08 23:07:02
    Tithead
    +1
    you can count on texas to criminilize minors.
  • Liza Jane Tithead 2011/02/08 23:08:21
    Liza Jane
    +1
    Next we start putting them in jail... and hitting them with rocks.
  • Tithead Liza Jane 2011/02/09 20:29:40
    Tithead
    death by stoning is a suitable punishment for skipping class.
  • turtledove123 2011/02/08 22:49:15
    turtledove123
    This may not be the right solution for every child in every situation. However, there needs to be a police presence in the schools because there are children who do get totally out of hand, and need to be arrested. In my area, you will not just get a ticket, you will get your self hauled in to jail with handcuffs on. Teachers have been actually physically assaulted. That makes no sense, and children need to get a handle on themselves, and their parents need to take some responsibility for the behavior of their kids. You can not just take the word of every child. I do not agree with this child being handled in that way but I do find that there are circumstances when this is necessary. There may also be more to this story. This may also be a lazy teacher who can not handle her classroom. That happens, as well. This policy may need some revisions, but I do not think it does not have "some" merit.
  • icymore turtled... 2011/02/09 03:21:17
    icymore
    you want to live in a police state. that is screwed up.
  • turtled... icymore 2011/02/09 15:30:31
    turtledove123
    I made no mention of living in a police state. I do know that you did not address the issue of the problems facing the school systems when children are beyond management.
  • Jasmine 2011/02/08 22:41:06
    Jasmine
    +4
    This is so incredibly ludicrous. What is wrong with these people? Nothing like giving a pre-teen a criminal record. Give me a break. Leave it to Texas.

    ludicrous wrong people pre-teen criminal record break leave texas texas face palm
  • unclepat 2011/02/08 22:25:27
    unclepat
    +3
    Considering their attempts at revisionist history in the schools system there, maybe it's time Texas did seceed from the damn union!!
  • JWoods0417 2011/02/08 22:00:39
    JWoods0417
    +4
    I can't believe this. This can't be real. This is legitimately horrifying. I mean honestly. For Christ Sake. What is going on here?
  • Idiot repubs 2011/02/08 21:31:15
    Idiot repubs
    +2
    No wonder they are billions of $'s in debt.
  • unclepat Idiot r... 2011/02/08 22:26:22
    unclepat
    +3
    I wonder if chewing gum in class is a felony down there? I'm just sayin'.....
  • sbtbill 2011/02/08 21:15:50
    sbtbill
    +3
    All I can say is Texas, should be kicked out of the union.
  • Orangedragan 2011/02/08 20:57:04
  • Jasmine Oranged... 2011/02/08 22:43:06
    Jasmine
    +2
    It doesn't make sense, but then it is Texas after all.
  • brutusin~ Proud Apetheist 2011/02/08 20:28:45
    brutusin~ Proud Apetheist
    +4
    Welcome to the Militant States of America.
  • bob 2011/02/08 20:24:47
    bob
    +2
    good jail the childern who are disrupting the classrooms.
  • Fannie bob 2011/02/08 20:41:42
    Fannie
    +4
    that will work, even for the 5 year olds...let's make hard criminals out of them.
  • DiViews2014 2011/02/08 20:11:09
    DiViews2014
    +1
    I believe there is a middle ground in this area. The children are out of hand in schools today. I am highly allergic to certain perfumes and I do not believe this young girl was as innocent as she is painting herself. There is also a breakdown between the authority figures. For the mother to blatantly question the word of the school teacher and police officer in an incident she did not witness, sends the wrong message to the child. As long as, there are children under 14 yrs bring firearms to school, I cannot find a problem with tickets being issued to them. There should be a reassessment prior to graduation and a determination made as to whether the crimes should be expunged based upon their behavior since the violations. I really believe there has to be an intervention on the behalf of the school children in this manner to help prevent them destroying their entire lives before they are old enough to legally drink a beer. This child will recover from being embarrassed.
  • Liza Jane DiViews... 2011/02/08 20:14:58
    Liza Jane
    +5
    She was being bullied and told that she stunk by other students... she used perfume. The bullies should have been punished not the girl who was so insecure she carries perfume around in her bag.

    Her mother has the right to question her child being charged with a Class C misdemeanor for spraying perfume in class. That's ridiculous. Even detention would be an overreaction. The child being bullied shouldn't be the child being punished. That's assbackwards in my opinion.

    I agree with police getting involved for things like bringing weapons to school and physical attacks but an 8 year old getting charged with a misdemeanor? What did he do... blow a snot bubble? It's unnecessary.
  • DiViews... Liza Jane 2011/02/08 20:35:55
    DiViews2014
    I disagree on this one. I do not accept the student account of the incident solely. It was a different world when I went to high school and there is a greater chance of NOT surviving the experience now than it was then. Today, there is a serious breakdown in communication between the teachers and the parents. The statement the parent made saying to the officer "you did not see her"??? Is too suspect and it causes me to believe she is slack in her role as a parent. If this girl was being bullied, she should have been on top of it before the ticket raised her eyebrow.
  • Lesleya 2011/02/08 20:09:24
    Lesleya
    +5
    Back in my day, if you chewed gum, talked back to a teacher or insulted another student, you were either given a detention (gum chewing --- can you believe it was outlawed at one time?) or sent to the principal or dean's office and straightened out, with the threat of a call to your parents. That usually worked. Why the Texas school system goes overboard by giving these children Class C "miss d's" is outrageous and a huge waste of time.
  • Liza Jane Lesleya 2011/02/08 20:15:38
    Liza Jane
    +5
    A huge waste of the judge's time as well; I'm sure they have real criminals to hear about.

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