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A Trio of Bills on Student Ticketing

State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, has filed three bills aimed at regulating the practice of ticketing students for misbehavior in public schools.

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State Rep. Armando Walle, D-Houston, has filed three bills aimed at regulating the practice of ticketing students for misbehavior in public schools.

HB 350 would allow juveniles charged with Class C misdemeanors (the mildest category of misdemeanors) to fulfill their sentences through community service or tutoring hours, instead of paying a fine, which can run between $60 and $500. HB 408 creates minimum standards for the training of juvenile case managers, who help students navigate the courts. HB 409 places juvenile case managers under the supervision of a judge.

"Disciplinary problems are a red flag that tell us a child is at risk of dropping out of school," Walle said in a statement. "Since many of these young people end up in our municipal and [justice of the peace] courts, it's important for our courts to offer consequences, like community service and tutoring hours, that appropriately address the discipline problems while helping these students to stay in school."

A January report from Texas Appleseed, a nonprofit advocating for social justice, showed that districts across the state are increasingly issuing misdemeanor tickets for student misbehavior like disrupting class, using profanity, acting up on a school bus, fighting in the hallway and truancy. The report also found that the students targeted with those tickets are disproportionately African-American or in special-education classes. Schools' use of ticketing to discipline students is largely unmonitored, and the state doesn't require districts to keep detailed records on their practices. 

Walle has also filed bills that would require districts to keep data on student arrests and ticketing and specialized training for campus police and security personnel. 

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