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Honors Student Jailed For Missing School: Take Action!

Honors Student Jailed For Missing School: Take Action!

17-year-old Diana Tran is an honors student in Willis, Texas, who takes advanced placement and dual credit college-level courses. She also works full-time at a dry cleaners and, on the weekends, at a wedding venue, the Vineyard of Waverly Manor, all to help support a baby sister who lives with relatives in Houston and an older brother who attends Texas A & M University. Her parents, as KHOU News reports, divorced “out of the blue” and her mother now lives in Georgia.

That’s an awful lot for any teenager to handle but there’s still more. Due to working full-time while being a full-time student — and being exhausted — Tran has come late to class, often after attendance is taken, or missed class altogether. Last month, she ended up in the Justice of the Peace truancy court, where Judge Lance Moriarty warned her to stop missing school. But after she again recently missed classes, Moriarty had her arrested in open court, ordered her to spend 24 hours in jail and fined her $200.

According to KHOU News, the judge’s intent was to make an example of her: “If you let one (truant student) run loose, what are you gonnaí do with the rest of Ďem? Let them go too?Ē

Point taken. But Tran is not cutting class to go hang out at the mall. People around the country are rallying to help her: “Now this girlís got a record, which could hamper her later in life,” said one viewer, David Byrne of the Woodlands. On Facebook, one commenter, Bill Palmer, wrote “Donít you feel safer now that an honors student has been thrown in jail? This is ridiculous.”†Some other comments have criticized Tran’s parents and, according to her friends, she feels she has shamed them.

Trans lives with her part-time employers at the wedding venue and they are seeking to set up a fund for her at a local bank.

Texas’ truancy laws are far more stringent than elsewhere in the US. According to Houston Independent School District,

State law (Texas Education Code Section 25.085; PDF) provides that if a student is absent from school without parental consent for any portion of the school day for three days in a four-week period or for ten or more days in a six-month period, the student and the studentís parent or legal guardian are subject to prosecution by the Harris County Justice of the Peace Courts or Municipal Courts. The student may also be referred to a juvenile court.

It is also noted that “principals may excuse absences for personal illness, death in the family, or other legitimate reasons.”

Of course Tran needs to attend school. But jailing her — resulting in a criminal record for her — is the wrong approach. As David Ferguson writes on Raw Story, the judge “admitted to KHOU that he could perhaps have been more lenient, but that the hadnít given any thought to reversing the sentence.”

Take action and sign the petition asking Judge Moriarty to reverse Diana Tran’s sentence for truancy!

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116 comments

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10:05AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Juvenile records can be expunged under some circumstances so this may not follow her for the rest of her life,. I hope some lawyer will take her case pro bono

1:06AM PDT on Nov 2, 2012

Hello America putting students into prison for missing school, just who is the victim of this crime of missing school. America the land of the free, well I think not. maybe the land of profit making private prisons is more likely closer to the truth.

8:31PM PDT on Nov 1, 2012

Well, good for Kathy P.

Was Kathy P. also responsible for 2 siblings?

Was she under the same level of stress and under whatever additional health/emotional issues someone else might be facing that none of us has any idea of?

If Kathy P. had been run down and slept in under her burden, would she really think that being arrested and jailed would have helped her, or her situation?

I must say that my jaw dropped reading this self-congratulatory statement implying that this poor girl, doing her best for her siblings, deserved this treatment - Kathy P. did not made herself look good.

It's attitudes like this that permit dictatorships to flourish and I do wish that people would be less judgmental of others and show a little more awareness of the fact that the reality others endure might be different than their own.

In any sane society, steps would have been taken to help this girl and her siblings - what happens to them now that her prospects have been limited by not only what this is doing to her health but to what a record will do to her future employment and pay levels?

Good grief, exposure to dry-cleaning chemicals on top of the high pollution rates in Texas are very likely to be causing her all kinds of health damage...

4:21PM PDT on Aug 27, 2012

her situation is sad, HOWEVER other students carry full time jobs and take honors classes and have issues outside of school too, and those students are able to make it to school. On time. I had 4 jobs, took all AP classes, lived on my own, had an apartment and bills, was kicked out at 17, and I had perfect attendance. It is hard, but not impossible

9:31AM PDT on Aug 22, 2012

What a piece of work that Judge is he should be flogged and banned from holding any position of authority for life.

3:01PM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

I have signed with hope and a fair amount of contempt for the actions of those responsible for jailing this young girl who should by all accounts be an example to all young and old alike regarding taking responsibility above and beyond what should reasonably be expected of anyone. I applaud her for being a hero not a criminal!

6:40AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

I REMEMBER WHEN THIS HIT THE NEWS HERE IN HOUSTON AND I CRIED WHEN I HEARD THIS STORY THAT YOUNG LADY SHOULD BE GIVEN A MEDAL FOR THE ENDURANCE SHE HAS TO KEEP MOVING FORWARD IN SPITE OF ALL THE ISSUES SHE'S DEALING WITH. WITH SO MANY STUDENTS HER AGE BEING THE COMPLETE OPPOSITE.....SHE HAS TAKEN ON THE RESPONSIBILITIES OF HER PARENTS.

5:42AM PDT on Aug 21, 2012

signed with hope

8:23AM PDT on Jul 31, 2012

Outrageous and unacceptable!, If this guy ticketed people for going over the time limit on parking meters he would likely toss the drivers in the slammer as well. Talk about a mean and vindictive little tin pot dictator! Maybe he doesn't like wimmin in the work place or smart wimmin or a variety of other invalid excuses.

No wonder parts of the U.S. have so many people in prison! A make work project for prison guards? Wonder who he will toss into jail next? A jay walker? A person parking a bit outside the lines of a parking space at the grocery store? Really pathetic excuse for a judge!

7:53PM PDT on Jun 5, 2012

I just wish Texas would secede and we wouldn't have to deal with this kind of garbage judge.

Horrible decision !!!!

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