Empty Classroom

Truancy

JUVENILE DESK BOOK

FORMS:

REFERRAL FOR TRUANT CONDUCT - (Filed by the School)

PETITION - TRUANT CONDUCT (Filed by Prosecutor)

ANSWER - TRUANT CONDUCT (Filed by respondent)

What is a Truancy Case? A truancy case is a civil proceeding filed in a “truancy court” alleging that a child (which for truancy cases is defined as a person who is 12 years of age or older and younger than 19 years of age) engaged in truant conduct by failing to attend school. Family Code §§ 65.001(a), 65.002(1). “Truancy courts” include justice courts. Family Code § 65.004(a)(2).

In 2015 the Legislature completely revised the way cases involving failure to attend school are handled. Rather than treating those cases as Class C misdemeanor criminal cases, with the child named as a defendant, the Legislature decided that truancy cases “may be prosecuted only as a civil case in a truancy court.” Family Code § 65.003(b).


The child is a respondent rather than a defendant and is entitled to an adjudication hearing with many of the protections of a criminal case. If the child admits the allegations of the petition, or is found to have engaged in truant conduct, then the court should impose a remedial order that attempts to address the underlying causes of the truant conduct. 


The purpose of the law “is to encourage school attendance by creating simple civil judicial procedures through which children are held accountable for excessive school absences.” Family Code § 65.001(b).


“The best interest of the child is the primary consideration in adjudicating truant conduct.” Family Code § 65.001(c).