Better Late Than Never: DISD and Dallas County Taking Care of Truancy Problems

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DALLAS -- Getting some Texas kids to go to school has always been a problem.

Instead of letting the long arm of the law deal with kids who skip, schools and even the state are taking a kinder, gentler approach.

In 2015, Texas decriminalized most truancy cases. This year, Dallas schools are taking that approach to a new level.

"If students miss part of the day, miss part of classes, or skip a particular class, we will deal with that at the campus level and at an individual level," said Dallas I.S.D. superintendent Dr. Michael Hinojosa. That means they don't try to hunt down students who only miss part of a school day.

"I'm proud that our counseling services have stepped up. They're going to provide interventions and mentors for the students that are missing school and missing parts of school so that we can intervene and take care of that matter," said Dr. Hinojosa.

Here's an idea of the difference it has made for DISD schools. Last year, almost 13,000 truancy cases were filed. As we near the end of the first semester, that number is down to less than 500.

The truancy committee also made 23 other recommendations about the court process. All of those recommendations have one goal in mind:

"Students need to be in school. When they're not, there are consequences. I think we need to be a lot more reasonable on how we handle them," said Dr. Hinojosa.