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Abuse of Criminal Trespass Warrants (CTW)

      One of the ways that Districts have recently adopted to keep complaining parents from knowing what is happening within the school is the issuance of a Criminal Trespass Warning (CTW).  A CTW is an instrument that limits parental access to the school. 

       Parents have been prevented from entering any building within a school district through the issuance of a CTW. Sometimes, they are just prevented from entering the school where their child with special needs attends classes. 

       A CTW has prevented parents from voting. One has prevented parents from attending their child’s A.R.D. meetings. Most importantly, a CTW prevents parents from full participation in the education of their child.

       In order to prevent the indiscriminate use of CTWs, each district should adopt a policy which should be prominently displayed in the office of every school telling parents that if they are disruptive or are perceived as dangerous to anyone within the school, they can be issued a CTW that could prevent the parent from entering the school grounds. Then, the sign should indicate where to find the information for an appeal. The same information should be in the student handbook. Beyond that, there should be an appeal policy and a means of challenging the CTW through the Texas Education Agency or a committee composed of parents, people from the community, teachers and administrators to hear a final appeal if the matter is not remedied through the district appeal process.

       Most importantly, the districts must make it clear that the parent can attend A.R.D. meetings, parent-teacher meetings and other functions that allow the parent to participate in his child’s education. Moreover, CTWs must only be issued when the parent is disruptive to the school environment or poses a threat to someone in the school.

Discussion of Criminal Trespass Warrants (CTW)

                Students with disabilities are governed under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act of 2004 (I.D.E.A.).   I.D.E.A. is federal law which mandates that each student with a disability be provided with an education that meets his or her unique educational needs.  The I.D.E.A. provides for individual education plans with appropriate modifications and accommodations that permit each student to function successfully in the least restrictive environment.

            Part of the I.D.E.A. addresses parental participation in the education process.  Parents are encouraged to attend the individual education plan meetings (hereinafter “A.R.D.”).  Parents are part of the planning and instruction process.  However, parents are often discouraged from participation in their children’s educational process especially if a specific parent is a strong advocate for his or her child.  One of the means that schools employ to discourage parental participation is the issuance of criminal trespass warnings (CTW) by an administrator or a school police officer.  These CTWs are issued to parents who have children with special needs at a rate that far exceeds the rate of CTWs issued to parents who have children in the general education program especially if a parent is a strong advocate for his/her child.

            A CTW is a written warning that the parent cannot enter school property or properties without the written or verbal consent of a designated administrator.  Parents must reach that administrator prior to coming on campus or other district property or risk certain arrest.  Using the power of the CTW, schools have denied parents access to their children’s campus to attend A.R.D. meetings in violation of federal law.  They are often denied access to their children’s classroom for observations that would allow the parents to provide more informed input into their children’s education plan.  Parents with CTWs are denied a voice in the general education program because they find it nearly impossible to attend parent-teacher meetings and other organizational meetings.  Moreover, the districts, for the most part, have no appeal policy that parents can access to have the CTW removed or withdrawn.

            In an attempt to address this situation with CTWs, the following is proposed:

1. CTWs should only be issued when the parent poses a danger to himself or others OR the parent uses profanity in front of students.

2. In the case of the use of profanity or other behaviors which the administrator deems inappropriate for a school situation, the parent should be counseled in private one time and told that a CTW could be issued.  A written notice of the conference should be given to the parent at the end of the meeting.

3. On the second use of profanity or engagement in other inappropriate behavior/language, a CTW can be issued.

4. The possibility of the issuance of a CTW must be part of the student handbook.

5. An appeal process must be part of the student handbook.

6. The appeal process should have two levels.  The first level should be to Central Office and the second level should be an appeal to the Texas Education Agency.

6. Parental participation in a student’s A.R.D. cannot be denied due to the issuance of a CTW.  The A.R.D. can be held in a neighboring library or even a police facility if concerns for the safety of anyone at the campus is an issue.

7. A CTW sign should be posted on the wall in the school office that includes a statement regarding the appeal process.  The notice must include the following information:

A parent or visitor may be issued a criminal trespass notice if,  in the opinion of the school principal or other administrator, the parent/visitor poses a threat of physical harm, is verbally aggressive or uses profanity to anyone on school property.

A criminal trespass notice can be can be issued for up to two years.

A criminal trespass notice can prevent the parent/visitor from entering specific school property without written or verbal permission from a school administrator. 

A parent/visitor who violates a CTW will be arrested.

If a parent/visitor is issued a CTW then an appeal process can be accessed. 

The appeal process can be located in the student handbook on page _______.

All information contained within this web site is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. No attorney-client relationship exists from the use of this web site, and an attorney-client relationship may only be established by contracting directly with Karen Dalglish Seal, Attorney at Law. Intellectual property within this Website are copyrighted and may not be reproduced in any form without the express permission of Karen Dalglish Seal.  Licensed by the Supreme Court of Texas. Not certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization.

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