Honor student jailed for truancy

A Texas honor student was sentenced to 24 hours in jail for truancy and fined $100. Diane Tran, 17, works two jobs to support herself and her siblings. Her parents divorced and moved away.

Tran said she works a full-time job, a part-time job and takes advanced placement and dual credit college level courses.  She said she is often too exhausted to wake up in time for school.  Sometimes she misses the entire day, she said.  Sometimes she arrives after attendance has been taken.

Judge Lanny Moriarty said he was making an example of Tran. “If you let one (truant student) run loose, what are you gonna’ do with the rest of ‘em? Let them go too?”

An 11th grader, Tran works full time at a dry cleaners and weekends at a wedding venue. She lives with the family that owns the wedding site. Her brother is in college; a younger sister lives with relatives. Why isn’t Tran living with relatives? My guess is she didn’t want to switch high schools.

The judge is under pressure to clear Tran’s record.

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  1. The asian divorce rate is close to non-existent; I suspect there’s something else going on.

  2. Mark Roulo says:

    She’s 17. She could just drop out of school. Clearly, sending her to jail for a day because she hasn’t done so is the right thing to do.

  3. Michael E. Lopez says:

    Truancy really should require some sort of additional element of time-wasting, up-to-no-goodness, or somesuch.

  4. There is something wrong when, instead of having her determination and work ethic honored, she is sent to jail. If the government feels the need to get involved, social services would seem more appropriate than the court system.

  5. Peace Corps says:

    Did the school turn her in?? I’m guessing so. This is crazy. She clearly wants to go to school, but even if she didn’t — any kid over 16 able to keep a job should not be sent to jail for truancy.

    • Peace Corps says:

      Restate, forget the over 16. Any kid able to keep a full-time job should not be sent to jail for truancy.

  6. Deirdre Mundy says:

    This sounds more like a DCFS issue– the kid is a minor with no parental oversight. Why is SHE responsible for supporting her little sister? Why is she (under 18) taking care of big brother (over 18?) Doesn’t TX have limits on how much a kid can work during the school year?

    This whole situation seems off…..

    • Mark Roulo says:

      This whole situation seems off…..

      Most assuredly.

      But tossing her in jail still seems very, very wrong.

      Looking for some silver lining here, it turns out that judges in Texas are elected. I’m thinking that there is a good chance that this judge won’t be working as a judge after this term comes up.

      But, yeah.

      Why isn’t the *older* brother working (as well, or instead)? If mom and dad have vanished, then the two older ones working to support the little one is not unreasonable (cudos to the siblings for stepping up). And we don’t know. Maybe the older brother *is* working, too, but tuition is tough?

      Still, yeah, the whole situation seems off.

      • Deirdre Mundy says:

        I agree, definitely not jail. But why is she living with her employer? Why not a friend’s family, at least? And why is no adult responsible for her?

  7. Deirdre Mundy says:

    I wonder if the judge’s decision to make an example of Tran was racially motivated? Coming down hard on the occasional Asian probably improves his ‘Not a Racist’ Bona Fides. Given the Houston location, most of his truants are probably black or hispanic….

    • Former Teacher says:

      Yep, I thought that automatically. Then felt bad for it. But Willis, TX isn’t exactly a cosmopolitan melting pot. It could very well be an element in the judge’s decision.

  8. This is an example of what happens when the public school system is growing more and more like Nazi Germany everyday…What’s next, students ratting out other students, like in the old Hitler Youth program (which all kids had to join, BTW).


  9. Let’s hope she doesn’t carry a water pistol in her purse to keep her cat in line or those “zero tolerance” administrators and judges will REALLY come down hard on her.

    Seriously, though, where has all the common sense gone? The judge should have assigned her a guidance counselor to help her find scholarship money for herself and her siblings.

    With all the kids out there who are NOT taking advantage of all that life offers them, this is shameful for us all as a society. Will she be in jail with all the other deadbeat kids out there? Maybe she can make some extra cash tutoring them for the days of school they’re missing.

  10. Okay; a little background. She was actually jailed for contempt of court. It seems she appeared before the judge, was chastised by him, and signed an attendance contract with the court.

    In other words, she was jailed for breaking the attendance contract she agreed to with the judge in a previous court appearance.

    It’s a little different than was previously published. And yes, I live in Houston.

    BTW: her fund is up to $70,000.00 at present.

    • Mark Roulo says:

      “It’s a little different than was previously published.”

      It is *HUGELY* different.

      “Making an example” of someone who doesn’t show up to an agreed upon court date is totally different from “making an example” of a 17 year old working 1.5 jobs who doesn’t always make it to high school classes.

      It does look like this is going to work out fine for the young lady, though, so that is a good thing.