Truant Students Also Cutting Court Appearances

Dallas' new daytime curfew has little effect on truancy

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    Most of the 700 kids cited for skipping school also don't show up for court.

    Dallas police have cited more than 700 kids on suspicion of breaking the city's daytime curfew, but few show up for their court dates.

    Students younger than 17 must be in school between 9 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. on school days. The curfew went into effect in August with the beginning of the school year, despite opposition from business owners and the parents of home-schooled children.

    Skipping School and the Courthouse

    [DFW] Skipping School and the Courthouse
    Most of the 700 kids cited for skipping school also don't show up for court. (Published Tuesday, March 16, 2010)

    But the Dallas Independent School District said the measure has had little effect on truancy.

    "We have not seen any noticeable increase or decrease due to the daytime curfew," said DISD spokesman John Dahlander.

    And school isn't all truant kids are skipping: On average, 70 percent of those cited for violating the curfew do not show up for court.

    "We have some challenges on getting the defendants here," Judge Cheryl Williams said.

    When Williams ordered case workers to call all the defendants on the docket about their court dates, they discovered that less than half of the students had working telephone numbers. And some parents never even knew their children had been cited, Williams said.

    The city sends a letter to parents informing them of their child's court date, but has no way of verifying if the parent receives it.

    "Children get home, and they see it's from the city of Dallas and it's addressed to 'the parent of,' and they throw it in the trash," Williams said.

    The Dallas school district said it will also call parents about a student's court date.

    "We know the city is concerned about that, and we will do everything we can to assist them," Dahlander said.

    NBC DFW's Grant Stinchfield contributed to this report.