Texas truant students to be tracked by GPS anklets ..

By ELIZABETH WHITE, Associated Press WriterSat Aug 23, 3:28 AM ET

Court authorities here will be able to track students with a history of skipping school under a new program requiring them to wear ankle bracelets with Global Positioning System monitoring.

But at least one group is worried the ankle bracelets will infringe on students' privacy.

Linda Penn, a Bexar County justice of the peace, said she anticipates that about 50 students from four San Antonio-area school districts — likely to be mostly high schoolers — will wear the anklets during the six-month pilot program announced Friday. She said the time the students wear the anklets will be decided on a case-by-case basis.

"We are at a critical point in our time where we can either educate or incarcerate," Penn said, linking truancy with juvenile delinquency and later criminal activity. "We can teach them now or run the risk of possible incarceration later on in life. I don't want to see the latter."

Penn said students in the program will wear the ankle bracelets full-time and will not be able to remove them. They'll be selected as they come through her court, and Penn will target truant students with gang affiliations, those with a history of running away and skipping school and those who have been through her court multiple times.

"Students and parents must understand that attending school is not optional," Penn said. "When they fail to attend school, they are breaking the law."

Penn said the electronic monitoring is part of a comprehensive program she started four years ago to reduce truancy. She cited programs in Midland and Dallas as having success with similar electronic monitoring measures.

But Terri Burke, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Texas, said requiring students to wear the GPS bracelets full-time raises privacy concerns.

"We're all for keeping kids in school, and we applaud any efforts to make that happen," Burke said. "But the privacy issue: What happens with the bracelet or anklet after school is out? Is that appropriate for the school or courts to know where and what this person is doing outside of school?"

Asked why the students have to wear the ankle bracelet all the time instead of just the school day, Penn cited problems with runaways.

"Sometimes, as I said, students are runaways. Parents don't know where they are," Penn said. "So it's for the safety of the child, as well as the safety of the community."

Burke said truant students and runaway kids are different issues.

Asked specifically about privacy concerns, Penn said she didn't have a comment. But, she added, her priority is "looking for the good of making these children accountable ... it's for the concern of these children getting an education."

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Comments:

bella...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 10:29 AM

I keep shouting this, but as I am sure you know, NO ONE IS LISTENING.  No one is taking this kind of governmental intrusion seriously.   We as a whole WILL regret our lack of action and complacent "why should I do anything" attitudes very, very soon.

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queen...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 10:32 AM

I completely agree, Bella.  And it terrifies me.  I keep telling my hubby we need to get out before it's too late.  I just don't understand why people are 'okay' with any of this?! 

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Jeang...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 12:34 PM Stories like this increasingly make me want to move to Europe or Canada.

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queen...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 12:38 PM

Ditto!  But I would say that large portions of Europe are no better these days and I keep seeing news out of Canada that makes me lose faith in that choice as well :(  It's hard not to think that we're just screwed.  Period.

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nicky...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 1:41 PM

This is ridiculous!!!!  They will find a way...there is always a way around anything.  So, IMHO, this is just a small deterrent and therefore unnecessary.

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adula...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 1:57 PM

well if MY child is continuously truant and i can never find her i'll put one of these damn things on her myself!! it's sad that teens let it get to the point where the gov't considers something so severe.

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hotch...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 2:30 PM

Wow.  Not surprising though. 

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queen...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 3:05 PM

well if MY child is continuously truant and i can never find her i'll put one of these damn things on her myself!! it's sad that teens let it get to the point where the gov't considers something so severe.

adulation Aug. 26, 2008 at 10:57 AM (Delete)

 

No disrespect here,but don't you think it's MORE sad that the gov't would even consider such a complete invasion of our privacy, our parenting choices, our persons, etc?  This is the type of thinking that ALLOWS our gov't to continue to overstep their bounds.  Who's next?  First it's the truant students, then people who run red lights, etc.... They will always start with the people that 'society' deems as the trouble-makers first.  How long before it's out of control and it goes beyond the trouble-makers?  How long before it's you?  Or me?  What reason will they give then?  What does it matter?  By then we will have GIVEN them so many of our civil liberties that they won't even need a reason anymore.

 

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bella...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 3:15 PM

Queen, your above comment is right on the mark.  One thing that I would like to add though is that it is OUR job to make sure that our children have enough respect for themselves, society and education that it does not get to this in the first place.  We are basically  handing over our job as parents because we are too complacent, too lazy and too interested in having our children "like us" than we are in creating responsible, respectful adults that give back.

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queen...
Aug. 26, 2008 at 3:28 PM

You know~ It never ceases to amaze me when I get responses from people that are not bothered by this type of thing.  I recently read one (on another site that I post to) that said that they aren't really bothered by it because it doesn't affect (effect?!) them.  BUT if it did affect them they would feel differently about it.  What?! 

And another that said something about this being a good thing because of the greater picture and future implications of allowing these kids to run amock (majorly paraphrasing here).  AND that it was more than just some whiny ACLU crap.  What?

I remember studying about another group of people that were 'marked' because they were trouble-makers and it was for the greater good.  They were called Jews and they didn't get ankle bracelets... they got lovely gold stars of David to sew on their sleeves/jackets/shirts.  I guess they were easier to track and spot that way and, hey, we all know that was for the greater good of society, right?!  *sigh*

Seriously, that last comment may sound extreme to many but where do you think extremists like Hitler (or Bush,anyone?) get their start?!  They test the water with the outcasts, trouble-makers, etc to see how it will go over.  Once society hands them a free pass they move on to those who THEY feel MIGHT eventually, someday end up being trouble-makers.

 

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