Lawmakers Limit Tickets Given to Unruly Students 8/20/13
CBS 7 News
August 20, 2013
Midland, TX - For almost 20 years, a tool for on-campus police was writing tickets, some costing up to $500 dollars, but that will soon change.
The new rules are a result of two bills passed by lawmakers that will limit officers to directly give tickets to students who are disruptive in class.
This includes anything from talking to using a cell phone while the teacher is giving a lesson.
In these cases campus police will give a report instead and the students’ punishment is most likely in the principal's hands.
The change to Texas law is not likely to have a noticeable impact in the Ector County and Midland Independent School Districts.
MISD Police Chief David Colburn says the department has been working to limit the number of tickets involving nonviolent disruptive behavior.
“The only difference is who is going to be giving the punishment,” said Chief Colburn, “It will either be administrators or carried by the criminal justice system.”
Local civil rights groups like Una Voz Unida support the new change. They say policing our schools will promote what's known as the school-to-prison pipeline.
“A lot of these students are Hispanic and African American,” said Art Leal, President of Una Voz Unida. “It doesn't put them on the right track by starting them off with a criminal record after graduation.”
“People feel that we are here to write tickets and take people to jail and that's not the case that's always a last resort for us,” Chief Colburn said. “We want to mentor we want the students to feel we are there for their safety.”
Colburn says officers can still issue tickets for violent offenses. For example, fighting, trespassing and having drugs on campus can lead to a class C misdemeanor. The new rule also allows this kind of enforcement in the school bus and bathrooms, which Chief Colburn says, was not considered a public place before.
“Kids are going to fight, assault people, cuss and that does not necessarily have to be dealt with by law enforcement,” Colburn said.
School districts will still continue to assign in-school suspension and expulsions.