ACLU settles truancy lawsuit with Woonsocket school officials

Woonsocket, R.I. – The Woonsocket Education Department has settled a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union.

Woonsocket schools will no longer refer students to Truancy Court under terms of a settlement with the ACLU. Woonsocket was one of several school districts sued by the ACLU on charges that Truancy Court is rife with constitutional abuses.

Steven Brown, executive director of the local affiliate of the ACLU, details some of the issues they have with the court:

"They fail to adequately apprise the students before them of their legal rights," Brown says. "There are students who don't fit the definition of truancy. We have concerns about ex parte communications that regularly occur."

Brown says he hopes the other school departments follow Woonsocket's lead and settle out of court. The other districts are Providence, Coventry, Cumberland, Westerly and North Providence.