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Kicking the Class C Ticket Out of Classrooms

Since the beginning of the year, two reports have documented how Texas's school districts punish their students: Texas Appleseed's Ticketing, Arrest & Use of Force in Schools How the Myth of the "Blackboard Jungle" Reshaped School Disciplinary Policy, released in January as part of its Texas' School-to-Prison Pipeline series, and the ACLU of Texas's Use of Force in Texas Public Schools: The Case for Transparency, Accountability and Decriminalization, published this month. The former notes that during the 2006-'07 school year, the Dallas Independent School District doled out 4,402 class C misdemeanor tickets to its students -- and that between 2001 and '07, 14 of them went to kids between the ages of 6 and 9. To which the ACLU's report adds: "In the 2006-2007 school year, Dallas schools issued criminal citations to 92 ten-year-olds."

Reps from Texas Appleseed and the ACLU were in Austin yesterday testifying before the Sen. John Carona-chaired Senate Criminal Justice Committee, where senators took up committee chairman John Whitmire's Senate Bill 1116, which seeks to curb the practicing of writing students tickets, especially during class. Said Whitmire, per the Texas Tribune's recap, "I think the presence of law enforcement in our schools has been a deterrent. But I also know in some jurisdictions the writing of class C misdemeanors is being used to generate revenue and justify the size of the police force."

In its 2010-11 budget, Dallas ISD is spending some $18 million on "security & monitoring services." At least one mayoral candidate's on the same page as Whitmire: In his education plan introduced this week, Mike Rawlings actually addresses on-campus policing within the DISD:

Improve communication between DISD and the City. As Mayor I will initiate regular meeting and exchanges -- opportunities to communicate and collaborate. One simple example is the DISD Police: is there a way that we can provide public safety for DISD through the Dallas Police Dept in a more cost efficient manner and free up those DISD funds to go back into our schools? These are the types of issues that we can work through if we are having regular conversations.

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