Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Reducing the role of ticketing in school discipline

Another good bill up today from Sens. Whitmire and Juan Hinojosa, SB 1116, aims to reduce the number of tickets written by police on school campuses for Class C misdemeanors. He cited examples from Houston ISD where 9 and 10 year olds were given tickets, which he thinks isn't a response that kids that age will understand or respond to well. Six-year olds have gotten tickets in Dallas, he said.

Deborah Fowler from Texas Appleseed said 420,000 tickets get filed against juveniles every year; 120,000 are traffic tickets and the rest are criminalizing juvenile misbehavior that in decades past would have been handled by schools, parents, etc.. She said there's no evidence that ticketing reduces misbehavior but that it alienates students and leads to worse outcomes. She also said it's likely an unintended consequence of increased police presence on school campuses in recent years. The committee substitute still allows the school to file a complaint with municipal or JP courts, but it reduces the knee jerk response of trying to solve problems through ticketing, Fowler said. (See a major report [pdf] from Texas Appleseed on the subject from December.)

An elderly gentleman announced that he'd opposed Communism his whole adult life and he opposed ticketing juveniles in schools because it was a totalitarian approach to a problem that could be solved other ways.

School district cops opposed the bill. Shocking. Their rep, Jeff Ward, said most school districts had "curtailed" giving citations, but he gave no data to counter Fowler's number. We "shouldn't have to legislate common sense," he said. Ward tried to claim it would prevent police from intervening in violent incidents, but Whitmire rattled off several criminal statutes that would cover the situation he described. Even Ward admitted, "there have been errors made, for sure."

The Texas Public Policy Foundation said ticketing in schools is an example of "overcriminalization" that's "needlessly expanding the scope of government."

Chairman Whitmire says some departments are "writing a lot of tickets to justify their existence."

See related Grits posts:


Phelps said...

I agree that we shouldn't be legislating common sense -- and if the police demonstrated that they had any, we wouldn't need to.

Anonymous said...

I agree we should not be issuing tickets.

Since schools won't use the paddle any more, I suggest we send them to the state capitol for discipline:)

Pam said...

It used to be that schools handled discipline in house through corporal punishment. Nowadays, teachers who aren't very good disciplinarians can't send their students to the VP for a paddle, they call the cop instead. Also, no tolerance policies on school campuses has led to the rash of ticketing. I'm not sure that just limiting the amount of tickets would totally deal with the problem.

Anonymous said...

The reason ticketing is so popular is because it has become a cash cow. The real reason juvenile courts are seeing less crime is because jp and municipal courts are cashing in on issueing fineable tickets. When a 6 year old's parent doesn't pay the ticket there is a warrant waiting for him on his 18th anniversary. Ticketing has become an option serverly abused for a monetary incentive. Whitmire should be complimented for taking such a stance. If you don't believe what I am saying is true just ask your local government to disclose how much money has been received through underage ticketing under the public information act. Ironically there is little to no regulation on how those funds can be expended.

Anonymous said...

This is the hypocrisy of liberals!

When 'get tough' advocates use isolated heinous crimes to promote change, the liberals are quick to point that out; however, they do the same thing when pushing their own agenda.

I would agree that ticketing 9 and 10 year olds is over the top; however, that is a very small percentage of tickets.

Another fallacy is comparing todays youth with the youth of yesterday. When I was in school and you misbehaved, you got licks. And then when you got home, you got them again.

The way these youth disrespect their teachers is unbelievable. And once sent to the office, they have no problem cursing administrative staff either. Not surprisingly, police get involved.

I think Deborah Fowler and Mark Levin need to work in a school or probation department for 6 months. That will change their mindset, I am sure.

Anonymous said...

I would agree about the opinion on liberal thinking. BUT, I would call you liar if you didn't acknowledge that Conservatives would rape a snake through a brick wall for a dollar. Amazing how much corruption has abounded in the conservative camps when it comes to being transparrent with $$$. The Texas Prison System is living testament. Sometimes it is hard to tell if it is "tough on crime" or "line your cronies pockets."

Anonymous said...

Whitmire and Fowler are clearly in bed together this legislative session. Fowler issues a report that is derogatory of TYC and calls for the consolidation and in return, Whitmire supports Appleseeds School to Prison pipeline initiatives.

Same ol 'you scratch my back, I scratch yours' politics.

I sure hope conservatives see through the charade.

Chris said...

I don't normally comments on blogs, but this post really riled me up.

In 1989 I had a good life at Nimitz High school. One day me and buddy were caught inhaling something in autoshop. More a prank then anything.

Within 1 year of that, I had spent 5 months in jail (3 different times), got kicked out of school twice and became homeless living under a bridge.... all because the VP choose to call police instead of calling our folks.

Yes Texas, I got my punishment all right. Tough on crime, zero tolerance, whatever you wish to call it, has NO place in schools and should only be applied to real criminals.

P.S. I flourished in life after leaving Texas.

Anonymous said...

Want to cut ISD expenses? Repeal the law authorizing ISD's from having police departments.


Anonymous said...


So let me get this straight, you got caught huffing something at school and as a result,you spent a total of 5 months in jail on three separate occasions and you were kicked out of school on two separate occasions.

I have a feeling there is a little more to that story.lol

And if you ended up under a bridge, I am guessing your parents were sick of your $%#@ as well!

And all of this because a VP decided to call the police? LOL

Anonymous said...

My City, Tyler, writes twice as many traffic tickets as any other town in Texas it's size. (This sounds like a time and place for the AG to intervene.)

They get hooked on the money and you can't ever get them to back off.

Chris said...

Hey Anonymous said...

You said:
"And if you ended up under a bridge, I am guessing your parents were sick of your $%#@ as well!"

I say:
yes treating 16 year old like adults has produced such outstanding results. Thanks to people like you.

I'm thankful I am in Canada now. Your types are rare here and this is why our schools are safer, kids smarter and crime is a fraction of what you 'Tough On Crime' people have. These 'bleeding hearts' must be doing something right up here.

I Glad the reasonable in Texas are overcoming the Neanderthals.

KBCraig said...

Our only experience with the juvenile injustice system, was the first time our son, in 8th grade, refused to "assume the victim position" against some bullies, and finally fought back against the gang who had been assaulting him all year.

Guess who went to jail? Yep, the one who finally shut down the bullies by beating the crap out of them.

While we were at the JDC trying to sort the mess out, the officer there (without any prompting on our part) went on a rant against the school, and said that just the week before, the ISD PD had arrested and brought to them a 6th grader for CHEWING GUM IN CLASS.

That is such a vital public safety issue. We must keep our children safe from the scourge of chiclets.

Chaos said...

Ah, the old dilemma: as a citizen, I'm appalled at the ridiculous use of tickets and hauling kids to court at the slightest infraction. As a lawyer, I applaud the whole thing because brings me, personally, more more business. Just 2 weeks ago I signed up a juvenile who got into a scrape at school. Her parents were appropriately outraged and paid my fee on the spot. Oh well...

Anonymous said...

The real issue is revenue. School police officers must justify their existence and one way to do so is to write citations and generate revenue. An officer who can produce a full ticket book can demonstrate that he /she has done something other than sit around and the revenue the JP court, municipla court, and district receive is a boon. With all the cuts at local, state, and at some point the federal level of government, school police officers will likely survive and continue to write tickets to juveniles because the revenue is needed. Can you spell q-u-o-t-a-s? Traffic enforcement officers have them and perhaps soone school police officers will have them too.

Anonymous said...

I believe the issue here is about tickets written to children under 10 years old for offenses that revolve around behavior problems.

I don't feel that these types of citations should be written, but rather the school administration handle these problems for what they are..discipline problems.

Our ISD Police Officer is very well respected, and depended on to provide a safe place for our children as well as the staff.

She does a wonderful job with the kids, and doesn't write tickets to the children that are under 10 years of age.

It even states in the Penal Code that you cannot even charge a child under 9 with a crime.

I think that sometimes school principals push problems off on the ISD Officers simply because they do not want to deal with them.

Now our Officer will write citations for traffic offenses, illegal parking, etc., but the school doesn't get any of the revenue from these that I am aware of, and the Officer sure does not write enough to create revenue.....

In fact I would venture to bet that our Officer doesn't write 15 tickets a year, she spends more time worrying about safety issues helping the kids, and offering assistance to our local department.

I guess we are very fortunate to have the type of Officer we do in our small town area..

titfortat said...

This is a multifaceted problem that is the result of poor (everything).

Texas is no different than the rest of the States facing the problems of educating the youth of poor and middleclass America.

In an attempt to actually do something Texas has taken drastic measures in (hope) of addressing dropouts, and juvenile delinquency. The reason they have done this is because there is a problem facing our youth, they are without question out of control and they are throwing darts at the wall because they do not know the answers.

Our country is in turmoil because we have gone from the land of growth and opportunity to the land of complacency and dependency.

In what is supposed to be a free capitalistic society the most important ingredients for the hope of living out our dreams of a better life have been destroyed by government regulation and the never ending creation of laws that purposely prevent the ideals of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.

The unemployed, the under employed, and the welfare parents whose hopes and dreams have no future produce fruit from a tree void of hope that propagates more of the same.

We are the only country on Earth that actually has the ability because of the ideals of our forefathers to produce a land of milk and honey and be self-sufficient to the extent that virtually anyone in America should have a shot at perusing their dreams and living a better life.

Instead of having dreams of a future we have allowed government to regulate our industry, produce union empowerment and fund entitlements and special interest to the extent that they have choked the life out of freedom’s opportunities.

If we want our children to have a desire to go to school and have a thirst for learning we must start by offering their parents something other than doom and gloom. They are children and have little more than their surroundings with which to depend upon for everything, including their behavior in school.

We shouldn’t be giving parents and children tickets we should be giving politicians from the top down their walking papers until they start producing results.

Anonymous said...

A common sense reaction to the ridiculous overcriminalization of school misbehavior has been needed for a long time. About 6 years ago, in junior high, my son got into a scuffle with a fellow student over the other kid running away with a pingpong ball for heaven's sake. They pushed and shoved each other a little but had stopped before any adult got there, yet when the school cop arrived, he wrote both a ticket for disorderly conduct-fighting. My straight A, honor roll, never been in trouble before, son had to go to municipal court. Instead of fighting the charge, I told him to take responsibility for his action and admit he should not have physically responded thinking the municipal court judge would admonish him and be done with it. Wrong. All he wanted to know was how my son was going to plead and then sent him to the juvenile services people - 6 months of having to attend youth court and 50 hours of community service. Oh, yes, and the fines! What a surreal joke - because juvenile crime (real crime) has dropped by half or so since the mid 1990s we now have to manufacture "crime" to keep the legions of justice professionals employed. Thanks to Whitmire and Hinojosa for paying attention finally.

Anonymous said...

Here is what happens all over the place, little Johnny is not our best student. He is not passing and he will not pass but he does not have to really work to pass because "studies" show the if Johnny falls more than 2 grades behind his peers his chances of dropping out go way way up.
His grandmother is raising him and she quit school in the late 60s because she was prego with Johnny's mother. Grandma by the way has found a way to live modestly on the Lonestar card and in public housing since she cant find a job that pays better.
Johnnys mom only comes home every now and then and is to tired to deal with Johnny, by the way she too felt like the free public education offered every child in this country wasnt meeting her needs and with moms help stopped going to public schools and was home schooled from what was to be her freshman year. Mom reports to live her mom but is not there that often as her current boyfriend and little Johnny dont get along that well so spends most of the time on the road with him seeing the country from the cab of his 18 wheeler.
Now little Johnny, when he comes to school has no idea what is going on and lays his head down on the desk. Ms. Jones is tired of giving Johnny a passing grade and tells Johnny to get his head off his desk, he refuses. The debate gets louder and louder until Johnny loses it and the police are called. Once they get there Johhny has to, to save embarassment act up even more and when the officer tries to take him he just wqants to sit back downa nd be left alone. And as he jerks away from the officer to sit back down, he is charged with resisting arrest.
Quietly not doing your work has now turned into a delinquent offense and we are off to jail!

Makes sense to me....NOT!

Anonymous said...

"My City, Tyler, writes twice as many traffic tickets as any other town in Texas it's size. (This sounds like a time and place for the AG to intervene.)

They get hooked on the money and you can't ever get them to back off."

I agree with you but there are much worse things going on in Tyler and the AG or the feds have done nothing so I doubt they will do anything about traffic tickets.

Anonymous said...

Yep, and when little Johnny fails the TAKS test, everyone points their finger at the teacher. Is it any wonder that the teacher wants little Johnny out of her class?

Anonymous said...

Texas is a police state pure and simple.