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Texas teachers may get student criminal histories

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Filed: Other Country: Andorra
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Texas teachers may get student criminal histories

DALLAS Texas is close to enacting a law that would provide teachers with detailed information about the criminal histories of their students, opening juvenile files that have always been confidential and are unavailable in most states.

The legislation, spurred by the fatal stabbing of a high school teacher in Tyler in 2009, is adding to a national debate over whether teacher safety should outweigh the rights of young offenders, who traditionally have moved through the juvenile justice system with their privacy protected.

The new disclosure rules were passed by legislators with little public attention last month. A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Perry said the governor is "thoughtfully" reviewing the measure before deciding whether to sign it.

Many juvenile justice experts oppose the new disclosures, saying that they would undercut the purpose of youth corrections - allowing young people to move beyond early mistakes to lead normal lives. But many educators insist that teachers are in too much danger.

"The bottom line is protecting teachers," said Rep. Jerry Madden, a Republican from the Dallas suburb of Plano, who sponsored the legislation.

Texas law already gives schools more background information on students than most states permit. The new law would significantly expand the details released, including accounts of crimes committed.

"This is a real departure from traditional juvenile court law," said Sue Burrell, an attorney with the Youth Law Center, a San Francisco-based law firm that serves children in the justice system.

More than 4,200 young offenders have been paroled from the state juvenile justice system to enter Texas public schools over the last five years, according to Texas Youth Commission data. About 300 were convicted of aggravated sexual assault or aggravated robbery. No statistics on incidents in schools involving former offenders are available.

Under the new measure, law enforcement agencies must provide school superintendents with "all pertinent details" of the offenses committed by parolees, and superintendents must inform teachers. Teachers would also receive written notice of student arrests. Current law allows teachers to be told orally.

Texas Youth Commission spokesman Jim Hurley said the agency is already providing more information to schools about parolees as the result of a recent state attorney general's opinion.

Forty-six states require that schools be notified of criminal acts committed by students, although usually not until the student is formally judged delinquent, according to the National Center for Juvenile Justice.

Teachers too often must "see in the dark" when it comes to understanding potential problems posed by students, said Bernard James, a law professor at Pepperdine University who specializes in education issues. What Texas is considering "is a landmark piece of legislation," he said.

However, the scope of the measure alarms some juvenile justice advocates. They worry that students who have committed crimes will be automatically placed in alternative education programs or subjected to other prejudicial treatment. They also point out that the written arrest notifications could haunt students even if they are cleared.

"A kid walks into a classroom where the teacher knows all the details of the offense, the teacher would have to be super-human to be open-minded," said Lawrence Wojcik, a Chicago attorney who chairs the American Bar Association's juvenile justice committee.

Texas teacher groups strongly support the measure.

"We feel like we can deal with things when we're in the know," said Grace Mueller, a middle school teacher in San Marcos and an officer with the Texas Classroom Teachers Association. "When you're blindsided, that's when you get fearful or put yourself or someone else in harm's way."

The issue is particularly sensitive for teachers in Tyler, where special education teacher Todd Henry was stabbed to death in his classroom by a 16-year-old student who had been released by the youth commission.

"All the teachers felt a little betrayed," said Barbara Davis-Staley, an elementary school teacher in the district. "We were wondering, how many more students do we have sitting in our classrooms that have been violent or have mental problems we don't know about?"

The student who stabbed Henry had been released because he was suffering from schizophrenia and other psychological problems that couldn't be treated in custody. The district was told the boy, who had a criminal record as well as special needs, would be fine as long as he was "stabilized medically," said Tyler Superintendent Randy Reid.

Reid said he is skeptical how much a school can do even it knows more.

"Certainly, the new guidelines would help us be more alert to what we're getting," he said. "But if these are children who are dangerous to be around, we're not really equipped to handle

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Vietnam
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Any teacher should be aware of the crimial history of a student.. child or adult... I found one of my previous students was on parole for sexually assulting a boy under 12 .. more than one charge same victim... he had just done 10 years of the 20 year sentence... I only found out because he was registered in the county and it was on the FDLE website.. he would have still gotten the same education but others would have been much safer had I known... yep.. the same guy I saw later working in the THilfiger retail outlet hanging out by the mens changing rooms...


"Every one of us bears within himself the possibilty of all passions, all destinies of life in all its forms. Nothing human is foreign to us" - Edward G. Robinson.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Brazil
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probably make things safer for the kids too.


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Filed: Other Country: Andorra
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The only issue I have is that those who truly have been rehabilitated will have a further stigma attached. However, there are some crimes, that regardless of circumstances the perpetrator should NEVER be allowed back into a public school. I would rather them simply ban sex or violent offenders from being allowed to re-enroll in public schools.


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The only issue I have is that those who truly have been rehabilitated will have a further stigma attached.

Too bad, so sad. I am far more concerned about the safety and security of non-offending youth and the professionals who educate them than I will ever be about some perp however rehabilitated they are said to be. It's part of the burden that comes with committing criminal offenses.

Edited by Mr. Big Dog

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Filed: Other Country: Andorra
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Too bad, so sad. I am far more concerned about the safety and security of non-offending youth and the professionals who educate them than I will ever be about some perp however rehabilitated they are said to be. It's part of the burden that comes with committing criminal offenses.

Why not just preclude certain offenders from being allowed to re-enroll? They have proven by their actions that they are not capable of behaving within the parameters of society. Narrowly define what cases will and will not be allowed to re-enroll. Anyone who falls outside of that will be forced to seek private education at their own expense.


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Why not just preclude certain offenders from being allowed to re-enroll? They have proven by their actions that they are not capable of behaving within the parameters of society. Narrowly define what cases will and will not be allowed to re-enroll. Anyone who falls outside of that will be forced to seek private education at their own expense.

Is that workable?

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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Vietnam
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The only issue I have is that those who truly have been rehabilitated will have a further stigma attached. However, there are some crimes, that regardless of circumstances the perpetrator should NEVER be allowed back into a public school. I would rather them simply ban sex or violent offenders from being allowed to re-enroll in public schools.

leaving a bar one night a friend felt the overwhelming need to urinate... as he was getting into the car he paused and let it flow between the door and the car... a cop sitting accross the lot saw him and realized what he was doing... walked over as he zipped it up... he was convicted and the charge had to do with public indecency... a sex crime in our state... he is now a registered sex offender and must register for eternity... poor guy didnt do anything that most guys I know have done at one time or another... I wouldnt have a problem with him being in school, but I would have an issue if he were banned...

Why not just preclude certain offenders from being allowed to re-enroll? They have proven by their actions that they are not capable of behaving within the parameters of society. Narrowly define what cases will and will not be allowed to re-enroll. Anyone who falls outside of that will be forced to seek private education at their own expense.

agreed.. with an appeals process available but not an easy process...


"Every one of us bears within himself the possibilty of all passions, all destinies of life in all its forms. Nothing human is foreign to us" - Edward G. Robinson.

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leaving a bar one night a friend felt the overwhelming need to urinate... as he was getting into the car he paused and let it flow between the door and the car... a cop sitting accross the lot saw him and realized what he was doing... walked over as he zipped it up... he was convicted and the charge had to do with public indecency... a sex crime in our state... he is now a registered sex offender and must register for eternity... poor guy didnt do anything that most guys I know have done at one time or another... I wouldnt have a problem with him being in school, but I would have an issue if he were banned...

agreed.. with an appeals process available but not an easy process...

Your anecdote is why I elaborated to include the part about discerning what is and is not worthy of excluding someone. My freshman year in high school, last game of the season, we smashed our arch rival. To further rub it in,after the game, when we were on the bus leaving, a few friends thought it would be funny to moon our opponants. Two blocks later, a cop pulled the bus off and dragged my 3 friends off the bus and put them in cuffs. Lucky, they were 15 and the cops just wanted to scare them. We all got talking to, some aren't so lucky. I have heard of some people getting arrested for that.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Morocco
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I had a student who used to go on these long rants in my high school class. Either that, or he would sleep. But, if I tried to get him to do something, he would rant and call me racist and all kinds of things. No one told me that he had a special 504 plan or anything. I complained about his behavior, because he really scared me. Finally, he was caught on video at the football game, kicking some other student in the head. So that was the end of him in my class!wacko.gif

Edited by Golden Gate

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I wonder what God will tell the Governor to do...


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