(Austin, TX) // Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding today’s announcement that the United States Department of Justice (DOJ) would begin an investigation into Texas truancy laws:
“I am pleased that the Department of Justice has begun looking into Texas’ truancy system,” said Senator Ellis. “I have serious concerns about how quickly many jurisdictions turn to the criminal justice system to address truancy, as well as the disproportionate targeting of minority and special education students. Education is the most important key to unlocking the doors of opportunity and avoiding the school-to-prison pipeline. But the Texas truancy system is pushing students who often face economic and social hardships out of school and further away from those opportunities.”
On March 18, Senator Ellis sent a letter to United States Attorney General Eric Holder requesting that the DOJ begin an investigation into racial disparities concerning the application of Texas’ truancy laws. According to a recent Texas Appleseed study, in 2013, Texas prosecuted 115,000 truancy cases, more than twice the number of all other states combined. Statewide, 80 percent of students sent to court for truancy are low income, and African Americans, Latino, and special education students are disproportionately impacted.