The Providence Journal reports that the Rhode Island Supreme Court has ordered the dismissal of a suit brought by American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) challenging the constitutional validity of truancy courts. The suit, which was filed in Superior Court in March 2010, charged that Truancy Court judges and school systems that participate in the court unfairly punish students who miss school.
The suit named Family Court Chief Judge Haiganush Bedrosian, five Truancy Court magistrates, and school superintendents for five communities as defendants. According to the ACLU, the court violated due process clauses of the U.S. and Rhode Island constitutions by, among other things, meeting and issuing penalties behind closed doors, with no stenographers present. Several school systems dropped out of the Truancy Court program after the suit was filed.
In dismissing the suit, the Supreme Court concluded that changes in Truancy Court practices had made the ACLU’s lawsuit moot.
Source: Providence Journal, 12/12/12, By Staff
[Editor's Note: In its opinion in Boyer v. Bedrosian, the Rhode Island Supreme Court concluded that the case was moot because the remedies sought to correct the alleged due process violations had already been addressed in Judge Bedrosian's administrative order 2010-2. Specifically, the supreme court stated:
After a review of the ten constitutional challenges raised in plaintiffs’ complaint, we are satisfied that they have been obviated by the administrative order and by existing law. Further, plaintiffs do not argue that the administrative order has not been properly adopted or implemented by the Family Court. Thus, plaintiffs’ request that the Superior Court declare the previous procedures in the Truancy Court to be unconstitutional and enjoin the Family Court from enforcing the prior procedures has become moot.
In December 2012, Legal Clips summarized an article in the Lebanon Daily News, which reported that a federal district court had denied the Lebanon School District’s motion to dismiss a class action suit brought by a group of parents over truancy fines. The Public Interest Law Center of Philadelphia and the NAACP filed the suit on behalf of the parents who claimed the court-imposed truancy fines assessed to them were above the state’s limit of $300 per violation. The lawsuit asked the court to force the district to stop collecting the fines and repay 500 truancy fines that the group alleged were excessive and levied illegally.]