Passed during the 84th legislative session, House Bill 2398 (HB 2398) significantly changes the laws and procedures regarding students who are truant from school, including repealing the criminal offense of Failure to Attend School that was in Section 25.094, Education Code.
One of the more significant provisions of HB 2398 is the requirement to expunge all information relating to a criminal complaint or conviction for a truancy offense under former Section 25.094, Education Code, from the local school records and information data systems upon receipt of a court order requiring the same. This requirement does not apply to referrals to juvenile court or to a juvenile court order.
The Texas Education Agency encourages all schools that receive a court order to expunge applicable truancy records and data as quickly as possible to comply with the order to expunge the information. Consult with your own school attorney to make sure you are complying with these court orders to expunge truancy data. Note that the requirement to expunge truancy records or data applies to truancy complaints or convictions occurring through August 31, 2015.
Please be aware of all of the different ways and places you may have this information stored in the event you receive a court order. The following areas of data and information storage are listed as a starting point for your school staff to consider. There may be other sources of truancy information within your school that will need to be reviewed for compliance with an expunction order.
- Original criminal court filings for truancy incidents as well as any supporting documentation that refers to the filing of a complaint or to a corresponding court order: In accordance with the PEIMS data standards, school districts and charter schools must retain records that include the name of the student that support the “Court Ordered to a GED” leaver code. As a consequence, the PEIMS data standards requirement will be modified for school districts and charter schools that receive an expunction order. The expunction order itself should be retained along with the court order for each specific student with the name of the student, and any other personally identifiable information, redacted. These documents as modified above will be necessary to support the reporting of the “Court Ordered to a GED” leaver code in the event of a “leaver audit”.
- Student Information System (SIS) database contents: If your school has stored data related to a truancy action in your SIS, you will need to remove this information as well. You may need to consult with the PEIMS software vendor that designed the product in order to remove the data from the internal databases used by that SIS.
- PEIMS “data file extracts” from the student information systems in the possession of a school: Best practice is for a school district or charter school to keep the final version of a data file that was submitted to TEA for a particular PEIMS submission. For the Summer PEIMS submissions from the 2003-2004 through 2014-2015 school years, your school needs to review the contents of these data files that were kept to make sure you cannot identify students that were reported with truancy reasons and/or truancy actions.
- Electronic or paper reports generated out of a SIS or any other software or system that tracks student truancy data: If your school has created and/or retained electronic or paper reports that identify a particular student as having been truant, then these reports need to be reviewed for compliance with a court order to expunge truancy data. Your school should decide whether these reports should be destroyed or if the contents of the report should be redacted so that a student cannot be identified as having been associated with a truancy complaint or conviction.
- Any other data, information, or reports not mentioned above: The list of records that are subject to a court order to expunge truancy data at the local level may go beyond the list of items above. Please review your own school data systems to be sure you have identified all sources of information subject to a truancy expunction order.