Report questions tickets given to students

January 12, 2011 3:45:26 PM PST
It used to be when you got in trouble at school you would be sent to the principal's office, and maybe even sent home to answer to your parents. But more and more, young students are being ticketed by police, and having to answer for their behavior in court. The most common infractions earning misdemeanor tickets include profanity, disorderly conduct and leaving school without permission. It's not what parents we talked to wanted to hear.

The ticketing of elementary students was one of the more alarming aspects of the report. Of the 22 school districts responding, Alief ISD ranked second in the amount of class C misdemeanor tickets issued in 2007. Dallas ISD issued the most with more than 1,200 class C tickets issued to elementary students. Alief ISD issued 355, Wichita Falls, Austin and Humble ISD issued less than 100 each.

Parent Maria Barraza says it's not right to give tickets to kids so young. They should be talked to, she says, and given help, not tickets.

The report was compiled by Texas Appleseed, a non-profit group comprised mostly of lawyers and others in the legal industry. Texas Appleseed is questioning if ticketing leads students unnecessarily from the school house to the courthouse.

"We certainly agree that students need to be disciplined for bad behavior," said Deborah Fowler, Deputy Director of Texas Appleseed. "We question if they should come in direct contact with the municipal or JP court system."

HISD police do not issue tickets to students under the age of 10, but did issue the most tickets to students statewide in 2007. More than 4,800 tickets were handed out, Dallas ISD followed with more than 4,400 tickets, then San Antonio and Austin ISDs.

HISD says the number seems large but in reality represents approximately two percent of their entire student body. Ticketing is considered a last resort.

"Something we started a couple years ago is we gave our officers the ability to issue warning citations," explained HISD Police Assistant Chief Robert Mock.