Just after noon at Thurgood Marshall Elementary yesterday, Dallas police were called to Thurgood Marshall Elementary, which is in Dallas but part of Richardson ISD. A teacher had just cleared 20 students from her classroom after an 11-year-old boy threatened to cut the throat of a fellow classmate, then placed a plastic bag over his own head and began making loud noises.
So, police did what they've been doing a lot in Texas in recent years: they wrote they wrote the kid a ticket for disrupting class. Disrupting class has been a class C misdemeanor, rather than merely grounds for visiting the principal's office, since the state legislature implemented a set of zero-tolerance laws in 1995 addressing school discipline.
In 2010, there were some 420.000 citations written in Texas, according to the Texas Tribune. Most of those were for things like profanity and truancy, and most were issued to high schoolers. But cases against students as young as five have been reported.
A bill to reform the law, which critics say makes run-of-the mill juvenile behavior into a criminal act, was introduced but was never voted on. Threatening to cut a classmate's throat is anything but run of the mill, but those critics wonder how a ticket will persuade an 11-year-old who undoubtedly has larger issues to behave.
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