Texas Truancy Court Resource Manual


THE TEXAS TRUANCY COURT RESOURCE MANUAL

ON-LINE

Despite the civil jurisdiction of juvenile courts over truancy, in 1993, Texas became one of only two states in the United States to criminally prosecute children for not attending school (Section 25.094, Education Code - Failure to Attend School). The trend favoring criminal prosecution over the last two decades begged a fundamental question: why were children in Texas being prosecuted for behavior that for most of our state’s history was neither a crime nor something the public believed should consume limited judicial resources?

While parent contributing to nonattendance remains a crime, the Texas Legislature in 2015 not only repealed the criminal offense of Failure to Attend School, it also repealed the original civil jurisdiction of juvenile courts over truancy.  “Truancy” and “Failure to Attend School” were replaced by “Truant Conduct.”  The jurisdiction over children in school attendance cases formerly vested with juvenile courts and justice and municipal courts now belongs exclusively to a court with a new moniker: truancy courts.  Truancy courts have countywide jurisdiction and solely have subject matter jurisdiction over truant conduct.

Which courts are truancy courts? Any justice court or municipal court is also a truancy court. Additionally, in counties of over 1.75 million people, the constitutional county court is a truancy court. It is not necessary to designate a court as a truancy court. The Legislature has done it statutorily. Nevertheless, local stakeholders are generally required by Section 25.0916 of the Education Code to meet and adopt a uniform truancy policy specifying which courts shall handle truant conduct cases.

In many ways the slate has been cleaned. New courts, new laws, a major paradigm shift that abandons the punitive approach of criminal law in favor of what is “in the best interest of the child,” the addition of Title 3A (Truancy Court Proceedings) is one of the most significant additions to the Family Code and changes to Texas Juvenile Law since the passage and subsequent revision of Title 3 (The Juvenile Code).  On September 1, 2015, less than three months after its passage, schools and courts in Texas began implementing these new laws.

The Texas Truancy Court Resource Manual is a collaborative effort of our organizations to help justice and municipal courts address the challenge of construing and applying more than 50 new statutes in the absence of legal precedent. The matter is further complicated because there are numerous issues that Title 3A simply does not address. The same true is true in terms of resource materials.

Part bench book, part forms book, and, admittedly, part best educated guess: because of the dynamic and evolving nature of the subject matter, this on-line resource is a work in progress and subject to periodic revision. So please check back regularly and make sure to carefully review the revision history for the links below.

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Acknowledgments

Checklists

Note: The checklists use the following abbreviations: C.C.P., Code of Criminal Procedure; E.C., Education Code; F.C., Family Code, G.C., Government Code; and H.S.C., Health & Safety Code.

Chapter 1. Initial Procedures

Chapter 2. Adjudication Hearing Procedures

Chapter 3. Trial Procedures

Forms

School District Referral

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Petition for Adjudication of Truant Conduct

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Notice of Decision Not to File Petition

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Order Dismissing Petition for Adjudication of Truant Conduct

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Adjudication Hearing

Child's Answer

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Adjudication Hearing Explanation

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Judgment

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Remedial Order

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DPS Order of License Suspension

DL-115 (DPS recommends use of DL-115 if ordering a suspension under Sec. 65.103(c), F.C.)

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DIC-81 (DPS recommends use of DIC-81 if ordering a suspension under Sec. 65.251(a), F.C.)

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Order Affecting Parents or Others

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Finding and Waiver of Parent's Community Service

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Notice of Right to Appeal and Sealing of Records

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Summonses and Subpoenas

Consolidated Summons

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Court Appearance Excuse Letter for Employer

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Writ of Attachment

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Subpoena of Witness

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Subpoena Duces Tecum

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Jury Trials

Jury or Bench Trial Setting Form

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Order to Summon Venire

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Jury Service Cover Letter

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Juror Information Sheet

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Office of Court Administration Official Model Jury Summons and Questionnaire

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Jury Panel List

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Jury List

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Certificate of Appreciation for Jury Service

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Verdict

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Enforcement

Motion for Enforcement

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Notice of Motion for Enforcement

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Notice of Proposed Contempt Order: Parent or Other Person

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Notice of Proposed Contempt Order: Child

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Judgment of Indirect Contempt: Parent or Other Person

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Judgment of Direct Contempt: Parent or Other Person

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Judgment of Indirect Contempt: Child

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Judgment of Direct Contempt: Child

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Order Referring Child to Juvenile Probation Department

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Sealing and Destruction

Order Sealing Records

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Destruction Order

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Miscellaneous

Appointment of Attorney or Guardian Ad Litem

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Determination of Probable Cause - Child Alleged to be Mentally Ill

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Temporary Stay - Child Alleged to be Mentally Ill

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Key Statutory Excerpts

Chapter 25, Education Code

Title 3A, Chapter 65, Family Code

 

CAVEAT

The Texas Truancy Court Resource Manual is only intended to serve as an informational resource. Its contents do not constitute legal advice. No express or implied warranty is made to its content. The content is subject to revision without notice. 

 

FEEDBACK

We are constantly striving to improve our work product. We greatly appreciate suggestions and examples from truancy courts across the state to help make this manual as useful and accurate as possible. Please send feedback to tmcec@tmcec.com.