Truancy Laws

The laws regarding truancy can be found in Chapter 25
of the Education Code, and these laws emphasize the
importance of your child attending school all day. Any
absences must be excused by their school, and excessive
unexcused absences could result in charges being
brought against:

• you as a parent for Parent Contributing to Nonattendance,
if your child is required by law to attend
school; and

• your child for Failure to Attend School, if he or she
is 12 years old or older, but not yet 18.

If your child has unexcused absences for 10 or more
days or parts of days in a 6-month period the school
district MUST file the above charges on the student.
In addition, the school district MAY file on your child if
your child has unexcused absences for 3 or more days
or parts of days in a 4 week period.

You should receive a warning letter at the beginning of
the school year stating you are subject to prosecution
if your child fails to attend school for the periods
stated above.
If you receive the warning letter and your child fails to
attend school as outlined above, charges can be filed.
However, even if you do not receive this warning it is not
a defense to prosecution, and you should call the school
attendance clerk to ask about your child’s absences.
When charges are brought, the school district is also required
to file a statement with the court that it tried intervention
measures to prevent the filing, but that those attempts
failed. The statement should also indicate whether
or not your child receives special education services.

The law doesn’t require you to enroll your child in prekindergarten
or kindergarten. If you do enroll your child,
you and your child must follow state attendance laws.
Generally, children who are 6 years old by September 1,
must be enrolled in school and must attend until they
turn 18. A child is exempt from attendance if the child:
• Attends a private or parochial school;
• Has a temporary, fixable physical or mental condition
that makes attendance impracticable and has a
doctor’s note specifying the condition, indicating the
treatment, and stating the probable time period your
child will be absent for the purpose of treatment;
• Is at least 17 years old and
• Is attending a course to prepare for the high
school equivalency exam, and:
• Has parent permission to attend;
• Is required by court order to attend;
• Has established residence apart from the
parent or guardian; or
• Is homeless; or
• Has received a diploma or equivalency certificate;
• Meets any other exemption listed in Texas Education
Code § 25.086.

• Parents or guardians will be summoned to appear
before a justice of the peace or municipal-court
judge. You must bring the named child if the summons
directs you to do so. If a parent receives a
summons and doesn’t appear with the named child,
the parent and the child could each be charged with
another Class C misdemeanor for Failure to Appear.
• Juveniles must enter pleas of guilty, not guilty, or no
contest (nolo contendre) in open court. Hearings
may be open to the public or closed at the discretion
of the judge.
• If the student was absent, the student’s parent or
guardian should bring all documents that show why
the student was absent.
• Neither parents nor students receive appointed
lawyers in juvenile truancy cases. You can represent
yourself, or you can hire a lawyer on your own.
Failure to Attend School cases and Parent Contributing
to Nonattendance cases are Class C misdemeanors that
carry maximum fines up to $500 on each case plus
court costs.
A judge can enter one of two types of probation with
court costs.
1. A final conviction: A judge is limited by law to what
can be ordered. This will result in a final conviction
against you, your child, or both that could show up
on a criminal history check. A fine will be imposed.
2. A deferred disposition: A deferred disposition delays
the end of the case until a period of time has passed.
The judge can set conditions that a charged person
has to follow during that period. If the charged
person reaches the end of the period without
breaking any of those conditions, the case is dismissed.
This results in no reportable conviction. A
special expense fee will be imposed.
The court has the discretion to order that your child
work toward a GED if your child is over 16 years of
age and meets other requirements.
The judge could also require your student to perform
community service or attend counseling programs.
An expunction is a legal procedure that essentially erases
the legal effects of a criminal conviction. A person
whose conviction has been expunged is released from
the legal disabilities resulting from a conviction, and
the government cannot make the conviction known for
any purpose.
A student may obtain an expunction of a truancy conviction
if the student has been convicted of only 1 prior
attendance violation.
To apply for an expunction, the applicant must pay a
$30 fee and submit a written request that:
1. Is made under oath;
2. States that the applicant has not been convicted of
more than one violation of Section 25.094 of the
Education Code; and
3. Is in any form determined by the applicant.
The court must expunge a conviction if:
• Before the student’s 21st birthday, the student
presents the court with proof that he or she has
obtained a high school diploma or equivalency
certificate (GED); or
• The court finds that the student followed the steps
to obtain an expunction and complied with the
court ordered conditions at the time of the conviction