A Texas law that's sent about 100,000 students a year to criminal court for missing school — and even some to jail — is off the books, though a Justice Department investigation into one county's truancy courts continues.

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law a measure to decriminalize unexcused absences and require school districts to implement preventive measures. It will take effect Sept. 1.

Reform advocates say the threat of a heavy fine — up to $500 plus court costs — and a criminal record wasn't keeping children in school anyway and was sending those who couldn't pay into a criminal justice system spiral.

Sen. John Whitmire says most truancy issues involve hardships, adding, "to criminalize the hardships just doesn't solve anything."