Truancy in Texas

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For Diane Tran, 17, there just weren’t enough hours in the day. The Texas honor student maintained stellar grades, while holding down two jobs to help support her siblings. Everyday after school she worked at a dry cleaners and on weekends worked for a wedding consultant.

With mounting fatigue from both school and work, she piled up 18 unexcused absences and eventually drew the wrath of a judge who hears truancy cases in Willis, a small community about 50 miles north of Houston.

In late May, Tran was jailed overnight on a contempt of court charge for disregarding a previous warning about excessive absences. With the help of a Houston attorney who volunteered his services, she was out of jail in short order and saw the arrest expunged from her record.

Just of the Peace Lanny Moriarty of Willis rescinded his original order but vowed in a statement “to continue to hold students, and sometimes parents, accountable for unexcused absences as we work to reduce truancy, lower the drop-out rate, and instill in tomorrow’s leaders the belief that rules and laws must be followed by all for society to properly function.”

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