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Protect Our Youth & Stop Unconstitutional Truancy Courts
Petition Background (Preamble):
Last fall, a 14-year-old student receiving special educational services at the local High School took the courageous step of integrating into mainstream classes. The student struggled with the assigned work, and his mother, spent countless hours in meetings with school officials working to revise the student's education plan to provide him with the support and services he needed.
According to the latest findings of the National American Civil Liberties Union in Washington DC, it is a fact that all across America there are hundreds of thousands of unconstitutional and extremely troubling practices taking place in our country's truancy courts.
Ostensibly created to support struggling students and help them stay in school, the truancy courts have instead been used to punish students who may have difficulty paying attention in class or doing their schoolwork because of special educational needs, are unable to attend school because of medical or emotional difficulties, or who have family caretaking obligations that cause them to arrive at school late.
Also troubling is the fact that the truancy courts operate under a shroud of secrecy. Truancy court hearings are conducted without any stenographic or audio recording of the proceedings, and frequently there are no formal written court orders or directives, creating the untenable situation of a parent or child's word against that of a judge. The files of the students who appear in truancy court are kept under lock and key, inaccessible even to attorneys retained to represent these youths.
This petition seeks to have it become mandatory to provide YOUTH and FAMILIES the right to appointed counsel and proper court recording.
Look at the disturbing and horrendous facts that are taking place every day in our justice system.
*Youth involved in truancy court are generally ill equipped to understand the nature of the proceedings and the charges against them. A child’s interest in receiving an appropriate education, including special education, or in being protected from discrimination at school, coupled with a child’s inability to present complex legal or factual matters to the court, may
mean that a fair result cannot be reached without appointment of counsel.
*Under federal due process, the right to counsel generally attaches only where physical liberty is at stake. In truancy cases, where youth are called on to represent themselves against the power of the state, and in some cases against their parents as well, there are factors that must require a different result. The U.S.
Supreme Court has acknowledged that whenever a person is required to resolve questions of right and obligation in a court of law – as are youth in truancy court – the court must ensure the person’s right to due process in those proceedings.
An increase to the problem arises when school districts who initiate truancy filings are not following proper policies and procedures and are employing Attendance Officers who are not abiding by the law.
In this petition we are seeking an Order to Disqualify School Representatives for Unauthorized Practice of Law.
Here are some examples of why this petition is crucial in protecting our youth and their families who are often times, wrongfully subjected to truancy filings by their school districts.
* The school representative filed an insufficient petition without regard to its pre-filing obligations and refuses to dismiss, stay or amend the petition;
*The school representative’s failure to comply with notice requirements resulted in an improper default order or issuance of a bench warrant;
*The school representative pursues contempt sanctions in spite of evidence that violations of your client’s rights under state or federal laws, such as the right to special education, bilingual education, or protection from anti-discrimination, are causing your client’s absences; or
*Other complicated legal or factual issues arise.
This petition is designed to get the attention and action by National Leaders and the President to resolve this ongoing problem.
Truancy Courts Must Eliminate the Unconstitutional Practices That are Negatively Affecting Youth and Their Families and Must Ensure That the Right to Due Process is Preserved.
Submitted to the President of the United States and Congress
RECOGNIZE that across the country hundreds of thousands of youth are being pushed out of their schools and into the pipeline to prison.
RECOGNIZE that the failure to provide counsel and the court proceedings to officially be on record, denies youth and families of their rights to Due Process which violates their civil rights.
RECOGNIZE that the failure to provide services and supports can lead to the loss of skills, education, unemployment, isolation, and family crises including increased risk for drop outs, juvenile justice proceedings, increased chance of incarceration, undue financial burdens, broken families and serious emotional, physical and mental health problems.
RECOGNIZE that the failure to allow for appointed counsel increases the risk of delinquency and higher drop out rates, causes loss of educational opportunities which decreases their chances for success and to become productive adult citizens of our communities.
AFFIRM through signature of this resolution that our country’s laws must be changed and federal funds provided to help states eliminate the unconstitutional practices of statewide truancy courts and youth and families rights to fair Due Process and to proactively implement supportive programs to decrease the involvement of the courts and establishing funding to help eliminate any barriers to attendance by working with the YOUTH, families, school districts and community services to build on the strengths and abilities they have and creating solutions instead of causing more problems which increase their poor attendance.
SEEK SOLUTIONS and LEADERSHIP to solve this critical problem;
URGE the President and Congress to work together to eliminate these unconstitutional violations of civil rights and liberties and provide appointed counsel along with services and supports to this country’s youth and families to protect their civil liberties and demand that youth with disabilities be protected under the Americans with Disabilities ACT and covered by the United States Constitution.
To keep informed on this vital issue, email firstname.lastname@example.org with the subject, “Keep me informed.” Mail completed petitions to PMB #159 13279 Research Blvd. Austin, Tx 78750, fax to 512-796-4095 or scan and email to email@example.com
The Protect Our Youth & Stop Unconstitutional Truancy Courts petition to Families & Youth Who Have Been Subjected to Unconstitutional and Discriminating Truancy Courts was written by Shanda Scott Founder of: NYRA-Austin: Peeps 4 Change and is in the category Students' Rights at GoPetition. Contact author here. Petition tags: youth rights, youth, students, truancy, civil rights, education, special education, school discipline, nyra, peeps 4 change, national youth rights association, aclu, american civil liberties union