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Student ticketing outlawed in public schools

AMARILLO - School officials now have fewer options when it comes to disciplining students.

Two separate but similar laws that go into effect Monday ban campus law enforcement from writing tickets to students under the age of 17.

For the 13 Amarillo Police officers who patrol schools in Amarillo and Canyon, this school year brings big changes.

"No class C misdemeanor citations can be issued on a school property,"  Head of APD's Juvenile Division, Sergeant Jerome Godfrey said.

He says his 13 officers wrote 252 citations last school year; most for possession of tobacco, possession of drug paraphernalia, and fighting.

"We're still going to stop it. I mean, it'll be contained," he said. "The difference is that once it's over and it's contained, it'll be up to school administrators to decide what they'll do."

The intent of the new laws is to ensure school districts use their own codes of conduct instead of issuing tickets that can mean hefty fines and a blemish on a juvenile record.

But Godfrey says that's already how AISD and CISD operate.

"We let them try to handle all the discipline up to the point that  everything they tried is not working, then we step in with the class C misdemeanors," he said.

APD and many other school law enforcement liaisons are waiting on an opinion from the attorney general's office to detail what on-campus officers can and can not do.

With less authority under their belts, Godfrey hopes teens won't stir up more trouble for liaison officers knowing a court date is less likely.

It's still possible for students to be charged with class C misdemeanors, but it has to be done off-campus after the incident is over and a judge has the final say on whether the charges hold.

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