“Texas honor student jailed for missing too much school”

by Walter Olson on May 27, 2012

“[Diane] Tran said she works both full-time and part-time jobs, in addition to taking advanced and college level courses,” and her parents have “split up and moved away” leaving her in charge of a younger sister, which make it hard to keep to the exact school day. Judge Lanny Moriarty did not seem sympathetic: “If you let one run loose, what are you gonna’ do with the rest of ‘em?” [CBS Atlanta](& Hans Bader)

P.S. Earlier on truancy laws here.

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When Schools Are Like Jails — Or Worse
05.29.12 at 8:18 am

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1 LisaMarie 05.27.12 at 12:37 am

Wait…what? Is a 17 year old still even legally required to be in school? And she’s supporting a younger sibling? How can she be the minor guardian of another minor? She’s prosecuted for truancy but her parents are not on the hook for abandonment?

2 Melvin H. 05.27.12 at 1:00 am

LisaMarie, not if the age of consent(?)–majority?–is 16 or 17 years old, unless the parents left them before that.

Speaking of which, if I read right both parents left? Where are they and are they getting hauled in on charges for anything?

3 doug 05.27.12 at 7:44 am

more law and order run amok. and what about the younger sibling?

4 DEM 05.27.12 at 9:04 am

What was the school’s role in this? Would it not have been the entity to bring charges in the first place? Why wouldn’t the principal have noted this is a good student, asked her what help she needed and leave it at that?

5 Alice Lee 05.27.12 at 8:38 pm

She and her siblings are abandoned. She is trying to take over the parents’ responsibilities to take care of her siblings. Probably to avoid being taken away by the welfare/social workers and placed in? a home/ separate homes. They are sheltering at a relative’s place; so, that does not mean the relative has to take up the responsibilities of the parents. The judge knew of her situation; she’s only 17 and is doing 2 jobs (at least) to make ends meet.

By merely warning her (the 1st time) not to skip classes again; did he take into consideration of the rest of her siblings? What else did he do to help this girl if he felt that education is important? What did he expect her to feed the younger ones with what? Air? What has he done other than giving the warning and now putting her in jail for one day? “One day in jail is NOT DEATH SENTENCE….” but what’s the purpose and how effective & constructive is that jail sentence be? Very unconstructive judgement.

Even the commentators felt for the girl but the judge? If I were to put myself into the girl’s position, I would do the same as she did and probably also drop schooling. Is there any other choice for her? Look? at the girl’s face. She looks so lost. The living of the family is above all, in her case, not by choice but by situation. Pray that someone or some organisation will be able to help this child and her? siblings.

6 Mannie 05.28.12 at 1:52 pm

We can’t let people grow up to be responsible. We cannot tolerate her independent spirit. She must be crushed and turned into a Government Supported Drone.

7 Ed 05.29.12 at 7:08 am

My wife’s job entails her filing truancy charges. There is no wiggle room at all. The school doesn’t get to decide, you miss x days, you get filed on. Not as bad as zero tolerance, but close.
Not sure about Tx, but here there are multiple warnings and letters prior to that point.

8 Richard Nieporent 05.29.12 at 8:34 am

So what every happened to that kind and caring government that we hear so much about from the Leftists? It would appear that you will obey the letter of the law or else is closer to the truth. Doesn’t the school have guidance counselors who can speak to the child and find out what the problem is and make a decision on whether or not to report the child accordingly? Of course not, that would make too much sense. And of course it doesn’t stop with the school system. Here you have the court system also acting in a callous and uncaring manner. This sorry excuse for a judge is going to make an example of her. Why? Does he thing that this honor student was missing school for the fun of it? I bet he gets his chuckles from throwing an honor student in jail.

9 ParatrooperJJ 05.29.12 at 11:22 am

She needs to file a complaint with the state nursing board.

10 DensityDuck 05.29.12 at 1:45 pm

Ed: That’s kind of what I figured. The law says what it says, and the judge is constrained to follow it. If the judge starts making exceptions for poor little cute girls who work hard, then he’s forever after going to be explaining why he isn’t making exceptions for every other kid who comes up on truancy charges.

Ironically, people who think that Zimmerman is innocent should support this decision, because it’s the same thing from the other direction. If public opinion were allowed to override the law then Zimmerman would be fried chicken by now.

11 MF 05.29.12 at 7:28 pm

What was the school’s role in this?

Realize that for schools, attendance is critical. They get paid based on butts in seats. If a student isn’t in school, they don’t get the dollar amount for each day the student isn’t there, with the exception for specifically granted illness. So a student who doesn’t have a parent call in, and who doesn’t have an explicit doctor’s note, is noted as an unexcused absence, which means the school doesn’t get their money.

Remember, it’s for the kids (TM). No, it’s all about money.

12 Richard Nieporent 05.29.12 at 8:46 pm

Sorry DD, but that is just not correct. Except in the case of mandatory minimum sentences, a judge has complete discretion as to the penalty. The issue was not whether she was guilty of truancy, she was, but what the penalty would be. There was absolutely no reason that he had to sentence her to a day in jail. In fact, he was being deliberately harsh for no other reason than he is an a**hole.

13 Bumper 05.30.12 at 1:56 pm

First, this young lady may not have to work for quite a while:
http://www.helpdianetran.com/
Second, I hope the voters of Texas recall Judge Moriarty.
Third, I hope the Republican Party throws him out.
Fourth, I hope the Texas legislature changes the law….

14 gitarcarver 05.31.12 at 11:21 am
15 gitarcarver 05.31.12 at 5:42 pm

And just when this couldn’t get any noteworthy / special / weird / insert adjective here, comes this:

http://abcnews.go.com/US/community-aid-jailed-texas-honor-student/story?id=16464091#.T8flPsiROSY

A 17-year-old Texas honors student who was jailed for missing too much school because she had to work two jobs to support her siblings, refused to accept the more than $100,000 a website raised for her.

But Tran didn’t want the money: “There’s some other kid out there struggling more … than me,” she said.

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