Ankle device keeps track of students GPS program lets court officials monitor truants
SAN ANTONIO — Court authorities 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 — likely to be mostly high schoolers — will wear the thick ankle bracelets during the six-month pilot program announced Friday. She said the time students wear the anklets will be on a case-by-case basis, but she doubted any will wear them the entire half-year.
"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.
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.
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?"
Burke said truant students and runaway kids are different issues.