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House of Representatives
Session of 2013 - 2014 Regular Session

MEMORANDUM

Posted: January 10, 2013 02:58 PM
From: Representative Thomas R. Caltagirone
To: All House members
Subject: Reintroduction HB1302&1303 - Truancy and the Vehicle Code
 
I will soon be introducing a 2-bill package of legislation that would change the way we sanction student offenders in the compulsory attendance section of the School Code, and make provision for it in the Vehicle Code..

Under present law, offenders at least 13 years of age are themselves often assessed a $300 fine, when the parents have made good faith efforts to ensure attendance. While this may at first glance seem like sound public policy, the results often have unintended negative consequences. I believe we can do better.

Often these young offenders are later found in contempt for non-payment and subjected to detention in a youth detention center or jail for failure to pay the assessed fine. Teens often have no means to pay these fines, and incarceration of youngsters too often feeds a spiral into further criminal behaviors. We need to find a way to better ensure compliance with school attendance while not enabling further antisocial behaviors.

These bills have been requested by a task force including both Magisterial and Common Pleas judges in my home county.



Document #1

Introduced as HB470

Description: My first piece of legislation would remove the fines for minors, with the accompanying risk of contempt for non-payment, but leave in place the suspension of driving privileges sections of the act. It also provides options that if the child graduates during the period of suspension, obtains a GED, or attains the age of 21, and PennDOT receives official notice of either event, the period of suspension shall be terminated and the driver’s license shall be restored early by PennDOT. Again, this enables these offenders to be more readily employable once they have met their educational responsibilities, and supplies an incentive to graduate.

This first bill is the School Code component. Attached is the equivalent bill from last term.
  View Attachment
 

Document #2

Introduced as HB471

Description: The second bill would authorize the Department of Transportation to suspend the Motor Vehicle Operating License of any student who has failed to respond to a citation or summons on a truancy charge while eliminating any fine penalties.

Notice to PennDOT would come from the relevant court handling the truancy citation, in the same manner as the current failure-to-appear suspensions under the Vehicle Code.

We badly need a tool that will ensure that truancy citations are dealt with promptly, while at the same time not imposing financial penalties which encourage students to just try to avoid the whole issue, hence risking more severe penalties later. Giving truants an incentive to deal responsibly with their obligations, while impacting on one of their most cherished privileges, strikes the proper balance.

Truancy problems are a sign of an at risk youth. We’ve tried the usual remedies, and they have been found ineffective, unless our goal is filling youth detention facilities. I believe this approach will be both effective and provide a clear path back to putting things right for these youths.

These bills are being submitted as separate bills rather than a multi-title bill because they fall under the jurisdictions of different standing committees of the House, Education and Transportation.

This second bill is the Vehicle Code component. Attached is the equivalent bill from last term.
  View Attachment