I am really appalled after reading an article about a judge in Texas sentencing a 17 year old girl to an overnight stay behind bars and he has fined her $100. The good judge has decided and I quote,

“If you let one run loose, what are you gonna do with the rest of them? Let them go too?”

I know there are certain laws in certain states about students attending school. I also know that after so many unattended days without an excuse, actions can take place and a judge is given the right to serve the student as he sees fit.

This case is quite different as far as I am concerned. Diane Tran who is in the 11th grade at Willis High School in Willis Texas, is an honor roll student that makes straight A’s in her classes. They say she has been taking college level classes as well as her normal classes. So what makes her any different than other students?

Well Diane is not only putting herself through school, she is working one full time job and a part time job and still going to school. She was left with the responsibility of supporting her younger sister, who lives with relatives and an older brother who attends college at Texas A&M University.

According to the reports Diane’s parents announced they were getting a divorce out of the blue. None of the children were aware that their parents were even having a failed marriage. Diane stated, “I always thought our family was happy.” It is reported that Diane’s mother relocated out of state leaving the children at home. Her father rarely ever comes home so most of the time Diane lives with a friend whose family runs the Waverly Manor wedding venues which is where Diane works at on the weekends.

Mary Elliot, Diane’s weekend boss said about the sentence Diana received, “I can understand if a child is staying out of school, running around, a bad kid, getting into trouble, taking drugs. I could understand why he would slap them into jail for 24 hours. But Diane doesn’t do that. All she does is work and go to school.” Diane also works fulltime during the week at a dry cleaner.

Although it is unclear about how many days the student missed from her classes, Texas state law allows only 10 unexcused days in a six month period to miss. Apparently she had been warned prior to this not to miss any more days but when the judge heard she had missed more days, he had her brought forth to his court and ordered her to sit in jail for the 24 hours plus added a $100 fine.

OK I can understand the law too but I decided to check out the Texas school attendance laws and I found also that there is more responsible here than just the student.

(b) A school district shall notify a student’s parent if the student has been absent from school, without
excuse under Sec. 25.087, on three days or parts of days within a four-week period. The notice must: inform
the parent that;
(A) It is the parent’s duty to monitor the student’s school attendance and require the student to attend school:
(B) The parent is subject to prosecution under Section 25.093 and
(2) Request a conference between school officials and the parent to discuss the absences…
(C) The fact that a parent did not receive a notice…does not create a defense to prosecution…

This sounds to me like this young girl’s parents need to be in court also, and not just for their daughter not attending regularly in school. They left this girl and her sister at home to fend for themselves. Diane has done the only thing she knows how to make sure she can attend school and support her brother and sister. What about her parent’s responsibility? How come they have not been picked up and held responsible for abandoning their children?

I know they have to have rules in order to keep the kids in the classes but under certain circumstances I think some of those rules could be bent like in this situation. Go after the parents not the children. Make them pay the fine and if anyone should go to jail, it should be them not the girl that has devoted her entire life to supporting her siblings and still have that determination to attend school with high goals. Personally I am quite impressed with her achievements with keeping straight A’s.

I wish Judge Lanny Moriarty would reconsider this case. Take this off her record so it won’t hurt her in the future. Make the parents do the time and pay the fine, not Diane. Why must one student placed in an almost impossible position be punished for doing the best she can?

I am going to be praying for this young girl. I wish her the best future ever and if she keeps this push in her up, she will achieve what she has worked so hard for. Good luck Diane Tran!

Jan Barrett

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