August 25, 2015
TO THE ADMINISTRATOR ADDRESSED:
SUBJECT: Legislation passed by the 84th
Texas Legislature relating to truancy and on-campus
During the recently completed legislative session, the 84th
Texas Legislature approved – and Governor Greg Abbott signed into law –
legislation that makes changes to current law as it relates to truancy and
on-campus student discipline.
Components of House Bill 2398 and Senate Bill 107 will be in
effect for the 2015-2016 school year. This letter highlights some of the issues
school districts will deal with in implementing the requirements of the bills. House Bill 2398 also applies to
open-enrollment charter schools. School
districts and open-enrollment charters should consult their own legal counsel
for a comprehensive understanding of all the requirements imposed by the
House Bill 2398
the criminal offense of failing to attend school, and instead establishes a civil
offense of a parent contributing to nonattendance remains a Class C
misdemeanor, but a court may now dismiss a charge against a parent for the
offense of contributing to nonattendance if the court finds that the dismissal
would be in the best interest of justice because there is a low likelihood of
recidivism or because sufficient justification exists for the failure to attend
the compulsory age of attendance from 18 to 19.
district may revoke a student’s enrollment for the remainder of the school year
if the student is 19 year old, is voluntarily enrolled in school, and has more
than five unexcused absences in a semester. However, the district is first
required to issue a warning letter after the student has failed to attend
school without excuse three times stating that the student's enrollment may be
revoked if he or she obtains more than five unexcused absences in a semester. A district may impose a behavior improvement
plan in place in lieu of revocation.
student is not to be referred to truancy court if the truancy is a result of
pregnancy, foster care, homelessness, or being the principal income earner for
the student’s family. Instead, a district is to offer the student access to
additional counseling services.
the third unexcused absence within a four week period, a school must initiate a
truancy prevention program for the student.
child commits truancy if the student is 12-18 years of age and is required to
attend school under Texas Education Code (TEC) Section 25.085; and fails to
attend school on 10 or more days or parts of days within a six-month period in
the same school year.
school districts’ truancy prevention measures must now include at least one of
behavior improvement plan that includes a specific description of required or
prohibited behavior, the period the plan will be effective (not to exceed 45
days after the effective date of the contract) or penalties for additional
community service; or
to counseling, mediation, mentoring, teen court, community-based services or
other services to address the student’s truancy.
districts are also required to employ a truancy prevention facilitator or
juvenile case manager to implement its truancy prevention measures. A school
district may designate an existing district employee to serve in this position.
HB 2398 applies to compulsory attendance enforcement by
open-enrollment charter schools as well as school districts. Additional resources may be available to
districts and charters to understand the requirements of the legislation such
as those available through the Texas Association of School Boards.
TEA will be adopting rules to create minimum standards for
truancy prevention measures, establishing a set of best practices for truancy
prevention measures, and providing for sanctions for districts that are not in
compliance with TEC Section 25.0915.
However, no additional minimum standards for truancy prevention measures
beyond those imposed by the legislation will be adopted for the 2015-2016
school year. During the 2015-2016 school
year, TEA will use a complaint-based model for issues of non-compliance under
Section 25.0915 of the Texas Education Code.
Senate Bill 107
ability of a school district to define a knife with a blade length of 5.5
inches or less as a “locally defined illegal knife” in the student code of
conduct and expel a student for the possession, use, or exhibition of a
“locally defined illegal knife” is revoked by SB 107. The possession, use, or
exhibition of a knife with a blade length of 5.5 inches or less is to be
handled as local code of conduct violation unless the use of the knife results
in another violation covered by TEC Chapter 37 (e.g. 37.006, 37.007).
campus must have a staff person designated as the Campus Behavior
person designated as the Campus Behavior Coordinator may be the principal of
the campus or any other campus administrator selected by the principal.
Campus Behavior Coordinator is primarily responsible for maintaining student
Campus Behavior Coordinator is required to:
notify a student's parent or guardian if a student is placed into in-school or
out-of-school suspension, placed in a disciplinary alternative education
program, expelled, or placed in a juvenile justice alternative education
program or is taken into custody by a law enforcement officer.
contact the parent or guardian by telephone or in person; and
a good faith effort to provide written notice of the disciplinary action to the
student, on the day the action is taken, for delivery to the student's parent
a parent or guardian entitled to notice of a student’s disciplinary removal has
not been reached by telephone or in person by 5 p.m. of the first business day
after the day the disciplinary action is taken, the Campus Behavior Coordinator
must mail written notice of the disciplinary action to the parent or guardian
at the parent's or guardian's last known address.
a Campus Behavior Coordinator is unable or not available to promptly provide
the required notice to a parent or guardian of a student, the principal or
other designee shall provide the notice.
Should you have any questions
regarding implementation of these two pieces of legislation, please contact
Candace Stoltz, Senior Advisor at 512-463-9286.