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Federal Probe Targets How Dallas County Handles Truant Students


A civil rights investigation targets whether Dallas County has been too tough on students who skip school and sometimes end up handcuffed and in court.

The U.S. Department of Justice on Tuesday announced the investigation into Dallas County, its courts and due process for truant children.

Some advocacy groups in 2013 filed a complaint alleging Dallas-area public schools are too harsh with truancy rules.

Texas law includes a charge of failure to attend school. A preliminary review by the Department of Justice indicates Dallas County prosecuted approximately 20,000 failure to attend school cases last year.

The federal review will also focus on whether Dallas County has meaningful access to the judicial process for children with disabilities. 

County Judge Clay Jenkins says Dallas County will cooperate fully with the investigation.

"We remain committed to giving every student their best chance at staying in school and graduating," Jenkins said in a statement. "My office is working collaboratively with reformers to improve the state laws that control the system, provide new protections for disabled students, make expunction of truancy records automatic, and lower fines and penalties."