The Appleton City Council tonight will consider a measure to repeal the city’s truancy ordinance now that the school district has asked that it no longer be enforced.
Last week, as reported in the Appleton Post Crescent, Appleton police said they would no longer issue truancy tickets, as the Appleton Area School District had terminated the truancy court and no longer wished to deal with truancy through law enforcement.
School board member Alvin Dupree, who has led the charge against the truancy court since he became the first African American elected to the board in 2017, said the truancy court disproportionately punished students of color.
“A lot of families, parents who were poor, who just didn’t have transportation” got caught up in truancy court, Dupree said in an interview Tuesday, adding that truancy citations and truancy court became “a pipeline from school to prison.”
After the truancy court was terminated earlier this year, the Appleton school district found other strategies to deal with truancy, Dupree said.
“It’s forcing the school district to deal with underlying issues first,” he said. “When you’re already got a 35-student classroom and you’ve got a kid who was, uh, having ADHD or having other issues, it’s easier to just be punitive than to address the issues.”
With the school district no longer seeking citations for truancy and the police department no longer issuing citations, Dupree and others have pushed the Common Council to repeal the ordinance under which citations were issued. The motion to repeal the ordinance passed the Safety and Licensing Committee by a 3-2 vote last week.
Dupree is hopeful the measure will pass the full council tonight.
“We’re prayerful that is going to go forth and we won’t have to worry about our kids being pipeline from school to prison,” he said. “I’m a man of faith … I feel that the Lord didn’t allow us to get this far to not have it come to pass.”